Plans to boost pal­lia­tive care

Seymour Telegraph - - NEWS - By Ali­son O’Connor

A new $140 mil­lion pack­age for com­mu­nity-based pal­lia­tive care will see the ser­vice sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased in re­gional Vic­to­ria if the Na­tion­als/Lib­eral coali­tion is elected to state gov­ern­ment next year.

Nagam­bie Health­Care chief ex­ec­u­tive Bron­wyn Bea­dle wel­comed the ini­tia­tive and said there were sig­nif­i­cant gaps for ru­ral peo­ple who chose to live their fi­nal days at home.

‘‘For those choos­ing to re­main at home, Nagam­bie Health­Care works with its com­mu­nity mem­bers to nav­i­gate is­sues of frag­mented ser­vice pro­vi­sion and poor af­ter hours ac­cess to pub­licly funded beds,’’ Ms Bea­dle said.

‘‘Our ca­pac­ity to of­fer home-based sup­port or a bed lo­cally to com­mu­nity pal­lia­tive pa­tients has pre­vented many a trau­matic and un­nec­es­sary trans­fer to an emer­gency depart­ment.’’

State Mem­ber for Euroa and Na­tion­als’ deputy leader Steph Ryan said the pack­age was the largest ever pro­posed in Aus­tralia.

‘‘I be­lieve this is one of the most im­por­tant in­vest­ments we can make be­cause com­mu­ni­ties in Strath­bo­gie Shire cur­rently have very lim­ited ac­cess to spe­cial­ist pal­lia­tive care,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘This will en­sure ter­mi­nally ill pa­tients and their fam­i­lies in our com­mu­ni­ties are sup­ported as they ap­proach the end of their lives.

‘‘Last year I came to ap­pre­ci­ate the im­por­tance of pal­lia­tive care when my own grand­mother passed away. She was sur­rounded by fam­ily and was given ex­cel­lent care by the staff at Goul­burn Val­ley Health, but I wish that her last mo­ments weren’t spent in a hospi­tal room.

‘‘I have also seen the care and ded­i­ca­tion of pal­lia­tive care spe­cial­ists across our re­gion, but many of them have told me that they wish they had the ca­pac­ity to do more.’’

Ms Ryan said re­search showed about 70 per cent of Vic­to­ri­ans wanted to live their fi­nal days at home sur­rounded by fam­ily and friends but barely a third re­alised that wish be­cause of inad­e­quate fund­ing for com­mu­nity-based pal­lia­tive care.

Last year fund­ing for com­mu­nity pal­lia­tive care pro­vided sup­port for 16 777 Vic­to­ri­ans, but the $140 mil­lion com­mit­ment would ex­tend that sup­port up to an ex­tra 8000 Vic­to­ri­ans.

Based on 2016-17 fund­ing for Com­mu­nity Pal­lia­tive Care Ser­vices and Con­sul­tancy Ser­vices, the Na­tion­als/ Lib­eral pack­age will in­clude:

A dou­bling of spe­cial­ist pal­lia­tive care med­i­cal and nurs­ing ser­vices to com­mu­nity pal­lia­tive care clients, es­pe­cially in ru­ral and re­gional Vic­to­ria.

A 50 per cent in­crease in fund­ing for com­mu­nity pal­lia­tive care pro­vided in the home, in­clud­ing overnight care, in-home respite and carer sup­port, and en­hanced links to af­ter­hours sup­port such as GPs and phar­ma­cists.

Sig­nif­i­cant ed­u­ca­tion and work­force devel­op­ment to re­cruit and train skilled pal­lia­tive care work­ers to de­liver ex­panded ser­vices, en­hance health pro­fes­sion­als ca­pac­ity to have end-of-life con­ver­sa­tions, and sup­port vol­un­teers.

A com­mu­nity aware­ness and en­gage­ment cam­paign to as­sist Vic­to­ri­ans to un­der­stand the avail­abil­ity and ben­e­fits of pal­lia­tive care, in­clud­ing un­der­rep­re­sented groups such as ru­ral and re­gional Vic­to­ri­ans, chil­dren, non-can­cer re­lated ill­nesses, peo­ple from cul­tur­ally and lin­guis­ti­cally di­verse back­grounds and in­dige­nous Vic­to­ri­ans.

Es­tab­lish­ing an End-of-Life Min­is­te­rial Coun­cil to en­sure pal­lia­tive care is in­te­grated with broader health ser­vices and flex­i­bly and ef­fec­tively meet­ing the needs of ter­mi­nally ill Vic­to­ri­ans and their fam­i­lies.

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