Care Plus Program
A multi-site implementation of early palliative care in routine practice to improve health outcomes and reduce hospital admissions for people with advanced cancer.
International evidence shows that timely palliative care is integral in providing high-quality care to, and reducing hospitalisation for, advanced cancer patients. When people with cancer access early palliative care at key ‘transition points’ in their illness in addition to their usual care, they describe having fewer symptoms and better quality of life. Barriers and uncertainty often prevent patients and health services from initiating or accepting this early access.
Care Plus study is an Australian mixed method, multi-site implementation trial of early palliative care for patients with advanced cancer. Care Plus is a practice change model that aims to improve equitable access and acceptance of early palliative care by fostering a collaborative confidence between palliative and oncological care. The Care Plus approach addresses barriers to timely palliative care through an adaptable, research-based referral pathway introduced at key defined, disease-specific times or ‘trigger’ points (e.g. diagnosis or relapse) in the illness for people with advanced cancer.
This ‘whole of system’ practice change model fosters a collaborative confidence between palliative and oncological care, and flexibility to address the complex care needs of advanced cancer patients, their families, and carers.
Care Plus has been implemented and evaluated based on implementation science principles in hospital settings in Victoria and South Australia. Linked pre and post-practice change data will analyse health service use at the end-of-life, and qualitative analyses will evaluate the processes of how early palliative care can be implemented at different sites.
Care Plus has been demonstrated to be acceptable, feasible, effective, scalable and sustainable to patients, families, referring and palliative teams.
The Care Plus research team has gathered strategies and lessons to develop a resource package for health-service providers to implement this standardised and integrated approach to early palliative care for advanced cancer patients. This implementation package is available and free to use via the Care Plus website.
Care Plus is funded by an NHMRC-MRFF Grant. For further information on the Care Plus implementation package, to join a Community of Practice and/or to be involved in future research projects related to Care Plus, please email us at
OUR RESEARCH PUBLICATIONS
“By implementing Care Plus for people with cancer across a series of hospitals and tumour streams, we aim to reduce the variability and increase the equitable access to best evidence-based care.”