The Caring Communities Program (CCP) was a three-year national palliative care initiative of the Australian Department of Health and Ageing (2003-2006). It funded 37 diverse projects with the common goal of improving the knowledge and skills of families, carers and community groups so they could provide support during the palliative process and work through their own bereavement.
An independent national evaluation of the CCP considered outcomes and processes at three levels - consumers, providers and the system – as well as issues such as project sustainability, the transferability of any lessons learnt to other geographic areas or contexts, and the capacity in palliative care built as a result of the CCP.
This paper focuses on one aspect of the CCP - the processes at the project level which enabled and supported projects to achieve their goals - and presents some interim findings. The evaluation methodology is described and an overview of the program included, providing some context for the paper.
The 37 projects varied widely in their settings, scope and methods. For example, some aimed to bring specialist education in palliative care to health workers in rural and remote areas, while others built volunteer support networks and enhanced community understanding of palliative care. Projects also varied in structural aspects such as, for example, whether the officer was recruited for the project or was in a continuing role, and whether the project evaluation was conducted internally or externally. The evaluation provided an opportunity to examine characteristics at the project level which contributed to success in building capacity in palliative care.