Budget offers new support to coordinate end-of-life care

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Budget offers new support to coordinate end-of-life care

New funding announced in last night’s Federal Budget will enable families to spend more quality time with loved ones who are terminally ill, and less trying to navigate the health system, Palliative Care Australia (PCA) anticipates.

The $8.3 million funding will boost the role that Primary Health Networks (PHNs) have in coordinating end-of-life care. PHNs are funded by the Federal Government to make medical services more efficient and effective and improve outcomes for patients. The funding, over three years, will enable a number of PHNs to recruit a facilitator, who will identify local palliative care services and build links with local general practitioners.

PCA CEO Liz Callaghan said the new approach may reduce pressure on patients and families during what is often an emotional and stressful time.

“The last thing a person approaching the end of their life and their family needs is having to spend many hours contacting different health and support services to coordinate their care.

“If PHNs are able to fill this role, it will enable families to spend more time with each other and maximise the effectiveness of palliative care services for people at home.”

She said it can be challenging for people who are terminally ill people and their families get the right care, when and where they need it. PHNs could make a significant difference through their coordination role, supporting people to die an expected death in their place of choice.

“We know that 70% of Australians would like to die at home, but nationally only 14% do,” she said.

“People who wish to die at home need care from a range of people including palliative care specialists, general practitioners, community nurses and nurse practitioners, community pharmacists, allied health professionals, personal carers as well as social support for themselves and their loved ones.

“They may also require special equipment such as beds, chairs and showering aids to make them more comfortable and enable their carers to support them safely.”

PHNs will achieve the funding through an expression of interest process.

The announcement was met with enthusiasm by the Western NSW PHN which is the largest in the state, covering 433,379km and servicing more than 309,000 people of whom 17.5% are over the age of 65 years.

It confirmed the budget announcement was good news for the region and that it would be applying for the new funding.