More palliative care at home and in aged care? Yes please!

A new report is calling for the appointment of a Palliative Care Commissioner and $240 million a year to support home based palliative care, reports Judy Skatssoon of Community Care Review.

“The report  says palliative care is treated like an “optional extra” but should be a core health service in the aged care sector,” says Judy.

That’s a really big problem which results in some distressingly bad deaths. And most nursing homes would eagerly embrace the financial support to improve this.

Palliative Care Australia, which commissioned the report, points out: “This new report calls for an overhaul of the palliative care system in Australia, including an additional annual investment of just over $350 million, which will result in a saving of over $450 million across the broader health care system every year.”

If you think about how much harder and more expensive it is to go to hospital to die, rather than stay at home or in your nursing home, that argument makes good sense.

“The report also calls for a national agreement on palliative care between the Commonwealth and the states and territories, and a new full-time Palliative Care Commissioner, to help create the best experience possible for those with life-limiting conditions and those around them,” Palliative Care Australia says.

One reader reacting to this new report asks why we need to spend more money on reports such as this one, when improvements delivered by community based palliative care are so obvious, benefiting the dying, their family and society.

It’s true that we can get to the point where instead of solving a problem we just commission another report about it.

But some of the data currently bandied about to determine what the community wants is pretty old and tired. For example, the suggestion that 70 per cent of people want to die at home has been extrapolated from a very old South Australian study and reinforced with later American statistics.

So it’s great to see an effort to review and update. And yes, let’s not keep commissioning new reports. But to have an objective one prepared by KPMG, which is expert at investigating the figures behind services and commissioned by Australia’s peak palliative care body is an extremely useful tool.

Let’s build on it, get some action around it and alert the community to the need. Communicating why this is so important is one of the major challenges, since so many of us are shy about thinking of questions relating to palliative care until we need it, instead of working for change before we need it.

Investing to Save – The economics of increased investment in palliative care in Australia, can be downloaded here

Thank you to Community Care Review for alerting us to this report. They are at:

For more on the Snow Foundation, go to:   The Snow Foundation.

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