A new $140million 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 16777 Victorians, but the $140million 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 after-hours 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 under-represented 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.