Cancer Australia today launched a new interactive Guide to implementing the Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer.
The Guide, developed in consultation with Indigenous health experts and leaders, and clinicians, is a practical tool to assist health systems, health services and health professionals in the implementation of optimal cancer care that is culturally safe and responsive. The Guide is designed to lead workplace change at different levels of the health system that will improve cancer outcomes and experiences for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer.
The cancer death rate increased for Indigenous Australians by 26 percent while at the same time decreasing for non-Indigenous Australians by 16 percent between 1998 and 2015. Compared to non-indigenous people in Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a higher likelihood of having cancer at an advanced stage of development at diagnosis.
Professor Dorothy Keefe, CEO Cancer Australia, is keen to see widespread uptake of the Guide. “It is a new era in cancer care. It is the responsibility of the Australian healthcare system to address the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a culturally safe and responsive way,” said Professor Keefe.
“The integration of cancer-specific and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health expertise is an important foundation for culturally appropriate and responsive cancer care.”
The Guide was designed in collaboration with Cancer Australia’s Leadership Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Control, who provided high level expert advice and guidance throughout the development of the Guide and the Optimal Care Pathway (OCP).
“Engaging with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the planning and delivery of cancer care is vital to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access and engage with health and cancer services,” stated Professor Jacinta Elston, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous), Portfolio of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) Monash University and Chair of Cancer Australia’s Leadership Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer control.
“This Guide provides pathway-specific steps to support health services in the planning and delivery of culturally safe care. It includes resources and tools to build health professionals’ capacity and confidence to meet cultural safety requirements,” she continued.
Using the OCP as the foundation for best practice, the Guide contains priorities for consideration at a system level, practical strategies to help health services plan for improvement including case studies and resources, and guidance for health professionals to consider in relation to their own practice.
“Cancer Australia calls on health system leaders, professional associations and health professionals to participate actively in conversations, and in targeted action, to align cancer services and care to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, said Professor Keefe.”