09 August 2022

In this month’s Under the Microscope, we’re taking a closer look at advance care planning, SWSPHN’s important role in raising awareness and what you can do to support your patients develop an advance care plan.

What is advance care planning?

Advance care planning is the process of planning for future healthcare needs. It relates to healthcare an individual would or would not like to receive if they were to become seriously ill or injured and are unable to communicate their preferences or make decisions. This often relates to the care people receive at the end of their life.

Advance care planning gives individuals the opportunity to think about, discuss and record their preferences for the type of care they would receive and the outcomes they would consider acceptable. It helps to ensure loved ones and doctors know what their health and personal preferences are and that these preferences are respected.

Why is it important?

Advance care planning benefits everyone: the individual, their family, carers and health professionals.

  • It helps to ensure individuals receive the care they actually want, it reduces unnecessary transfers to acute care and unwanted treatment
  • It improves ongoing and end-of-life care, along with personal and family satisfaction
  • Families of people who have undertaken advance care planning have less anxiety, depression, stress and are more satisfied with care

For healthcare professionals and organisations, it increases confidence they are providing the care preferred by the individual and reduces conflict with families and carers.

Who should have an advance care plan?

Everyone should consider advance care planning, regardless of age or health.

It is particularly important if the individual is:

  • older
  • has a chronic illness
  • has multiple diseases
  • has an early cognitive impairment
  • is approaching the end-of-life

What’s the difference between advance care planning and advance care directives?

An advance care directive is sometimes known as a living will. It’s something an individual creates for themselves and involves documenting their preferences for future care. It can include their values, life goals and preferred outcomes, and directions about care and treatments. An advance care plan is created by someone else on behalf of a person with diminished or no capacity to make decisions for themselves.

To learn more, visit the Advance Care Planning Australia website, or refer your patients to the the National Advance Care Planning Support Service on 1300 208 582 for help creating their plan.

What can you do to support your patients in developing an advance care plan?

GPs and care workers are encouraged to incorporate conversations about advance care planning into routine consultations with their patients, and ensure their patients’ future medical care preferences are uploaded to My Health Record.

The Advance Care Planning Australia website suggests the following triggers and conversation starters.

Online courses, workshops, webinars and support resources are available through Advance Care Planning Australia’s website.

SWSPHN also hosts CPD events relating to advance care planning. Visit our website for information about future events.

The Advance Project  provides practical, evidence-based resources and training to support general practice to initiate advance care planning and palliative care. End-of-life planning (advance care planning) and palliative care are important aspects of care for people living with dementia and their families. The Advance Project has developed new online learning modules and practical resources to make initiating end-of-life conversations and assessing palliative care needs of people living with dementia easier.

How does SWSPHN raise community awareness about advance care planning?

In July we presented an event in collaboration with Wollondilly Council’s Café Connect program and End-of-life Angels. You Only Die Once was an end-of-life planning workshop at Picton. The event gave participants a better understanding of advance planning, where to find information about the subject, and made them feel more comfortable about discussing their end-of-life wishes with family and friends.

SWSPHN also creates awareness of advance care planning by hosting stalls at community events across South Western Sydney such as the Agency Exchange Day hosted by MDS at Leumeah in June. Our team will host further stalls  at events in September and  October to discuss advance care planning, including at the Dementia Prevention and Wellbeing Expo at Bankstown (27 September); Café Connect at Picton (4 October); Carers Pamper Day at Camden (19 October); and Grandparents Day at Oran Park (26 October).

SWSPHN promotes advance care planning through providing information, resources and links on our websites. Information about advance care planning is available for healthcare providers and community on the SWSPHN website.

Information for your  patients  about advance care planning is available on Health Resource Directory  in a range of languages. If you’d like more information about advance care planning or our Peace of Mind project, email [email protected]

27 July 2022

South Western Sydney PHN are looking for an agency to establish education and support services for older people with chronic conditions through healthy ageing at home initiatives. Services will be provided to targeted communities, as outlined in the tender documents, with an aim to reduce avoidable hospitalisations and a need to enter extended care.

Tender opens: Monday, 1 August 2022

Tender closes: 5pm Friday, 9 September 2022


Who should apply

Submissions are sought from Private, Government, Non-Government, Community-based or Aboriginal community-controlled organisations with demonstrated capacity and capability to deliver Healthy Ageing at Home services in accordance with the Healthy Ageing at Home Service Model, Objectives, Outcomes, Scope and Specifications and Requirements (Part B) of this RFP.

Contract term: starts 1 January 2023, with phase 1 ending 31 December 2025.

Contract funding: Maximum contract value: $1,374,993.10 (ex GST).


22 July 2022

Twenty Wollondilly Shire residents took the opportunity to learn more about documenting their future healthcare wishes and Advance Care Planning during the You Only Die Once end-of-life planning workshop last Tuesday (19 July).

The workshop was part of the Café Connect Series run by Wollondilly Shire Council and held at the Wollondilly Shire Hall in Picton.

SWSPHN organised the guest speaker Patsy Bingham from End-of-Life Angels and Lifeline staff to provide support at the workshops.

The workshop also gave us the opportunity to connect participants with programs such as Carers Gateway, Carer Help and Australian Death Notification Service, and distribute Advance Care Directive wallet cards.

Participants surveyed after the event overwhelmingly said they now understood more about Advance Care Planning and where to find information about the subject, and that the presentation made them feel more comfortable about discussing their end-of-life wishes with family and friends.

If you’re interested in learning more about Advance Care Planning, SWSPHN staff will be out in about in the community in the next few months to provide information and answer questions.

We will publish details of events on our website in the coming weeks.


22 July 2022

A routine blood test in general practice could be the answer to an earlier dementia diagnosis, according to researchers involved in The Markers in Neuropsychiatric Disorders Study (The MiND Study).

The MiND Study is demonstrating how well a blood test for neurofilament light (NfL) works in a large number of people with diverse symptoms, and in broad settings such as primary care.

High levels of Neurofilament light (NfL), a biomarker of nerve cell injury, have been found to distinguish dementia from psychiatric illness and non-dementia, with high-accuracy.

The study’s Chief Investigator, Dr Dhamidhu Eratne, said: “Our ultimate aim is clinical translation: to lead to a simple, routinely available blood test for GPs and other specialists, to help reduce misdiagnosis and delay to accurate diagnosis and treatment, and improve outcomes for patients, their families, and healthcare systems”.

The study has recruited more than 450 participants from across general practices, memory clinics, and medical specialist (neurology, geriatrics, psychiatry) consulting room across.

It continues to welcome referrals from GPs for patients aged 40 to 80, with recent (within five years) cognitive, psychiatric, and/or neurological symptoms.

Eligibility criteria is available online. All that’s needed is a two-minute online referral form.

Find out more

28 June 2022

An Aged Care Specialist Officer (ACSO) is now available to provide in-person support at the Services Australia service centre at Bowral.

The face-to-face service aims to provide older Australians with greater choice in how they access the aged care services they need.

An ACSO can provide you and/or a chosen representative with in-person support to connect with and navigate the aged care system.

Aged Care Specialist Officers can:

  • provide in-depth information about the different types of aged care services
  • check if you are eligible for aged care services
  • register and refer you for a My Aged Care assessment
  • offer financial information about aged care services
  • help you appoint a My Aged Care representative
  • connect you with local support services, social workers, interpreters and advocates

Whether you are needing some extra help at home or considering a move to residential aged care, an ACSO can give you the support you need to get started on your aged care journey.

In addition to the support offered by Aged Care Specialist Officers, Services Australia staff at the Bowral service centre can help you:

  • access general information about aged care services
  • navigate the My Aged Care website
  • connect you to more specialist support

You can arrange a face-to-face appointment with an Aged Care Specialist Officer by phoning 1800 227 475 or speaking with the Services Australia staff at the Bowral service centre.

You can still access My Aged Care services through the My Aged Care website or the My Aged Care contact centre on 1800 200 422.

Find out more about the My Aged Care face-to-face service.

22 June 2022

Consumers, carers and aged care providers highlighted the issues, challenges and service gaps facing older people in South Western Sydney at SWSPHN’s series of four Local Health Forums held in May and June.

The inaugural forums gave participants the opportunity to:

  • Learn more about the focus and activities of South Western Sydney PHN
  • Learn about the Care Finder program, a Commonwealth-funded aged care initiative aimed at connecting local seniors to appropriate services
  • Share insights and perspectives which will guide the development of local, face-to-face supports to help older people navigate access to aged care services

A total of 86 locals participated in the face-to-face forums at Bankstown, Campbelltown, Warwick Farm and Mittagong, while an additional 50 people have so far provided their feedback through a survey.

Care Finder consultationSWSPHN is still working through the massive amount of community input, however, some of the suggestions from participants have highlighted the importance of:

  • GPs understanding and supporting the program
  • Needs of all diverse groups to be considered including access to bilingual staff and culturally appropriate services
  • Collaborating with local councils, religious groups and other community organisations
  • Integration of Care Finder program with health, aged care and other systems

Once community consultation has been finalised, SWSPHN will open a tender process for service providers, with service delivery expected to begin in January next year.

Save the date! 

Local Health Forums are a new opportunity for exploring service and health needs gaps in our community. Forums will be held twice yearly in each location, focusing on a different topic event round, and the next round of forums start in August and will focus on the assessing the health needs of our region. Keep an eye on HealthChat for event booking details 

Forum dates:

Wednesday, 17 August, Campbelltown/Camden at Rydges, Campbelltown.

Thursday, 1 September, Bankstown, at Bankstown Library

Wednesday, 7 September, Fairfield/Liverpool event, at Holiday Inn, Warwick Farm

Wednesday 14 September, Southern Highlands event, at Mittagong RSL Club

28 January 2022

It is important for adults to be protected against the following diseases:


Herpes-zoster (shingles)

Herpes-zoster (shingles) is rash caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV). People who have had chickenpox are at risk of developing shingles as the virus can reactivate years later. One in three people will develop shingles in their lifetime. As a person gets older, the risk of getting shingles increases. Although most people recover within a few weeks, some go on to develop chronic nerve pain called post herpectic neuralgia. This may be severe and can sometimes go on for months.

A dose of shingles vaccine can be given to adults 50 years and over.

The shingles vaccine is provided free for people aged 70 to 79 under the National Immunisation Program. To receive the immunisation, visit a GP or vaccination provider. 


Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)

Measles outbreaks occur in some communities mainly as a result of unvaccinated travellers and visitors importing the disease from overseas. It is important to be adequately protected. Most people born before 1966 will have been exposed to the wild-type measles virus and therefore do not require vaccination, while people born after 1966 require two doses of MMR vaccine (at least one month apart).


Whooping cough (pertussis)

Whooping cough (pertussis) is an extremely contagious respiratory infection. The disease causes uncontrolled coughing and vomiting, which can last for several months and can be particularly dangerous for babies under the age of 12 months. Whooping cough is spread when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes small droplets into the air, which may be breathed in by those nearby. Infection may be spread by contact with hands, tissues and other articles soiled by infected nose and throat discharges.

Whooping cough can cause severe disease in the elderly. A single booster dose is recommended for older people if they haven’t received a previous dose in the last 10 years. 

22 December 2021

Research shows that strength training can alleviate the effects of chronic conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis and heart disease, as well as improving body composition and enhancing mental wellbeing.

COTA NSW has developed a new exercise program to help older people improve their strength, balance, coordination and endurance. Classes are being held at Smeaton Grange and Bankstown.

To find out more about the Strength for Life program –

Smeaton Grange at Camden


22 October 2021

Live Well is a new project being delivered across South Western Sydney to improve the health, wellbeing and resilience of older people and carers.


What is the Live Well project?

South Western Sydney PHN and South Western Sydney Local Health District’s Older People’s Mental Health (OPMH) Service have partnered to deliver the Live Well project which seeks to empower clinicians to encourage positive lifestyle changes in older people and carers.

The project has an agreement to adapt an intervention from its Canadian developers for use in NSW. This intervention uses behavioural activation techniques to promote healthy lifestyles to improve health, wellbeing and resilience and has been piloted by the OPMH team with older people in Southwest Sydney.


Who will benefit from the intervention?

This project is for people aged over 65 without dementia (or those who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander over the age of 50)  and their carers.


How does the intervention work?

The intervention is easy to learn, brief, consumer and clinician-friendly, and effective. It can be easily included within routine clinical encounters.

At the first meeting, typically only taking 10 to 15 minutes, the patient is taught about six key wellbeing domains which underpin healthy ageing. The six domains are – physical activity, healthy eating, social activity, and three types of mental tasks (positive thinking, mental well-being, and mental activity).

In the next step, the patient answers questions about their willingness to change their behaviour. Finally, the patient is asked to choose which one out of the five wellbeing domains they would like to improve.

Once a domain is chosen, the clinician gives advice on how to achieve the goal. The patient is encouraged to make small, sustainable cumulative behaviour changes to help achieve better health, wellbeing and resilience over time.

At the next encounter, the encounter lasts about five minutes and the patient indicates if they have made any changes in the chosen domain and how much they think they have changed.

In later encounters patients are encouraged to continue improving that domain or to choose a different one in subsequent encounters.


Which clinicians can use it?

Any clinician working in primary or secondary care can use it including staff working in older people’s mental health; geriatric medicine; primary healthcare; and Residential Aged Care Facilities.


How will clinicians be supported?

Clinicians are given a toolkit which includes posters, goals sheets and behavioural scripts to encourage the hesitant and those who do not want to change.

A website will support the consumer, carer and clinician by linking to text and explanatory videos in six languages.

Training will be available to GPs and community clinicians across South Western Sydney to learn about the intervention.

For more information about the Live Well project or to arrange training by video-link or in-person, please contact [email protected]


21 June 2021

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in need of palliative care and their carers can now access easy-to-read information specific to South Western Sydney following the launch of a new booklet in Liverpool on Friday, 11 June.

South Western Sydney Primary Health Network (SWSPHN) partnered with local Aboriginal Elders, the Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council and South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD) to develop the booklet.

A journey into Sorry Business supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to share their wishes and preferences for their end-of-life care through ‘sorry business’ – cultural practices and protocols associated with death.

SWSPHN Chief Executive Officer, Dr Keith McDonald PhD, thanked everyone who contributed to the development of the booklet.

“This is an important resource and the first of its kind in our region. We would like to thank our Local Elders, Aunties, Uncles, Brothers, Sisters, their families and the community who have shared their insights on the Aboriginal journey through Sorry Business.”





This resource has been developed to provide culturally appropriate, respectful, and mindful information to encourage Aboriginal people to yarn about their rights, wishes and how to plan ahead when circumstances change through their lives.

A Journey into Sorry Business will be available at Aboriginal Medical Services and general practices in the South Western Sydney region as a free resource. It is also available online.

Download A Journey into Sorry Business


Font Resize