Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Palliative Care


The needs for palliative care services in the ACT are increasing, and have been reflected in recent news coverage, such as the ACT Government’s release of a tender for the procurement of a six-bed palliative care sub-acute facility and the opening of the new day hospice in Jamieson. The opening of the day hospice emphasizes the results of current research suggesting that the bulk of end of life care is still delivered in the community and that support should be given to the family and friends who often provide this care.
On 18 February 2012, the ACT Government released a tender for the procurement of a six-bed palliative care subacute facility. The tender is seeking a needs-based palliative care service, providing a Step Up / Step Down facility for adults transitioning from an acute care setting to home, or those needing an admission to a sub-acute facility to prevent a hospital or hospice admission. The successful tenderer will be required to use a palliative care approach in providing these services, based on the definition that “palliative care is care provided for people of all ages who have a life limiting illness, with little or no prospect of cure, and for whom the primary goal is quality of life” (Standards for Providing Quality Palliative Care for all Australians - May 2005). It is intended that the service will complement and work in partnership with the above existing palliative care services to ensure seamless transition between care settings. Submissions to the tender process close on 29 March 2012.
The ACT’s current Palliative Care Strategy expired at the end of 2011 and a review is underway, with completion expected by mid-2012. HCCA held a consultation on 24 February 2012 as part of this review to provide consumer input into the development of the new strategy for Palliative Care for the ACT. Key issues raised by HCCA members included:
·    Improved statistics on palliative care requirements and current service levels would inform better resource provision for palliative care in the ACT region.
·    Consumers need access to more information about palliative care services and the choices available to them, not limited to the Respecting Patient Choices program and Advanced Care Directives.
·    The National Pain Strategy should be linked into the ACT Palliative Care Strategy, and consideration given to more adequate services for pain management at home. Palliative care services should also address consumers living with chronic and acute pain.
·    A greater emphasis on services provided by expert Palliative Care Nurses / Nurse Practitioners could help addressed unmet needs.
·    Palliative care services should address the needs of different groups, including younger people – there are broader needs than just aged care.
·    Consumers should have more choice and access to a range of service providers, without being limited only to services provided by religious organisations.

The work of the review and the new ACT Palliative Care Strategy will help inform the planning and development of Canberra’s new Northside sub-acute hospital, and we hope will lead to improved information, access and provision of palliative care services to health care consumers across the region in the years to come.  HCCA prepared a submission to the ACT Government on the selection of the University of Canberra as the preferred site for building a sub acute facility that will include palliative care.

The Senate Committee on Community Affairs is completing an Inquiry into Palliative Care in Australia.  HCCA has completed a submission and we will put this on our website later this week.

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