End-of-life care for people with physical disability

Posted 12 Nov 2018

It is generally assumed that routine palliative and end-of-life care is appropriate for people with physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy and spinal cord injury.

The question remains though; are we properly caring for people with physical disabilities at such a vulnerable time?

Flinders Senior Lecturer in Disability and Community Inclusion, Dr Ruth Walker is the recipient of a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant, which will be used to explore the specific needs of people with physical disabilities who are at end-of-life, as well as the needs of their families and the support staff who help care for them.

Through a series of personal interviews and focus groups, Dr Walker and her team will investigate the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of people with long-standing disabilities as they approach end-of-life. Disability support staff will be questioned about the main issues and barriers to the provision of proper care, and family carers will be interviewed about the needs of the patients and their own needs as end-of-life approaches.

Dr Walker’s research will help develop appropriate and sensitive palliative and end-of-life care which considers the needs of people with long-standing physical disabilities, their families and disability support staff.

This research is made possible thanks to a generous supporter and generous donations from the community.

Project title: End-of-life care needs of adults with long-standing physical disability; perceptions of individuals, families and service providers.

Lead researcher: Dr Ruth Walker  


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