Workforce projects to improve palliative care expertise and knowledge in aged care

Christy Hunt, Workforce Development Program Manager for the End of Life Directions for Aged Care (ELDAC) Program

Queensland University of Technology

Palliative care has been recognised by the World Health Organisation as a global health priority due to the rapidly ageing population and an increase of chronic illnesses around the world. It has also been noted as an area of high importance in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Consequently, a well-trained and prepared health workforce is required for the delivery of high-quality palliative care for people living with life-limiting illnesses.  End of Life Directions for Aged Care (ELDAC), funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, aims to improve the aged care workforce’s capacity to provide quality palliative and advance care planning for aged care recipients. Nationally there is not a consensus on capabilities for palliative care. With minimal inclusion of palliative care education in the vocational and tertiary curriculum, this work is vital to the improvement of care in the aged care sector. To this end, ELDAC’s workforce capability team are currently working on three key resources:

1. Online education directory: The PaCE Aged Care (Palliative Care Education Directory Aged Care) has been developed to link learning resources to palliative care capabilities for nurses, care workers and specialist palliative care professionals.  It also links aged care organisations and allied health professionals to resources within the ELDAC Care Model. Comprehensive resources can be sourced from all National Palliative Care Projects and the content is searchable with richly attributed tags and keywords that improve the accuracy of your search result. This education directory is now available on the ELDAC website.

2. Learning pathways: Current assessment and mapping of educational resources against regulatory frameworks have indicated a need for targeted orientation resources to upskill staff entering aged care facilities. Due to extreme workforce shortages, staff are often employed without the requirement of knowledge and skills in contemporary palliative care practices.  Workforce development was also a key finding within the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Two new learning pathways, the ‘Nurse into Palliative Care’ pathway and the ‘Aged Care Worker’ learning pathway, will focus on the immediate knowledge and skills required to begin work in the aged care setting.  Additional learning pathways will be developed during 2023 which will include more advanced and technical skillsets.

3. Capabilities: New workforce capabilities are currently being identified through a modified Delphi research study. The capabilities will be informed through consumers of palliative care services and palliative care clinical experts. These capabilities will be underpinned by the Palliative Care Standards and will include resources specific to meet the new Aged Care Quality Standards (due for release in 2023).  A consensus-based, multi-professional, capability framework for the provision of palliative care across settings is needed to assist aged care providers to develop the workforce capability in delivering best practice palliative care. Such a framework will guide entry-to-practice education in the vocational education and training sector, higher education settings, and within workplace-designed education to ensure that the future and current workforce are adequately prepared to provide palliative care irrespective of place of practice.

The ELDAC website ( contains home care and residential aged care toolkits, which include links to education and learning opportunities, to support all levels of clinical staff. For more information on these projects or to provide any feedback, please contact the ELDAC Workforce Development Manager, Christy Hunt by email


*The views and opinions expressed in Knowledge Blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of ARIIA, Flinders University and/or the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care.