HammondCare to expand in-home palliative services

HammondCare is planning to expand its end of life services for people on home care packages under a five year palliative care strategy.

HammondCare will expand its end of life services for people on home care packages under a five year palliative care strategy.

Andrew Montague

It comes as Voluntary Assisted dying legislation passed in NSW last month, making it the last state to allow people suffering from a terminal illness to end their lives.

The aims of the Reshaping palliative care for the future: Strategy to 2026 include enabling people to die with dignity in their homes, upskilling the workforce in palliative care, and increasing palliative care services and research.

It wants services for home care package clients to include more end of life support and resources, in collaboration with local palliative care services.

Expanding home care

The report says a large proportion of home care focuses on domestic tasks like shopping and cleaning, while increased funding is aimed at cutting waiting lists.

However, trained care workers can also deliver non-clinical end of-life support, it says, and HammondCare is committed to expanding its workforce capabilities and capacity across its Home Care operations.

HammondCare General Manager Health and Palliative Care Andrew Montague said Australia’s ageing population and increasingly complex health conditions will lead to a doubling of the need for palliative care by 2050.

“When you look at where we’re at as a country, ageing population, a lot more chronic disease, the needs for palliative care are only going to grow over the years,” he told Community Care Review.

Applying a ‘palliative care lense’

Dr Montague says while HammondCare is uniquely placed to integrate palliative care across various settings, the ability to access palliative-related services under current funding models is limited to higher level home care packages and focussed on respite for carers.

The pending shift to a new care at home system provides a huge opportunity to integrate more palliative-focused services, he says.

The home care workforce also needs to be upskilled around palliative care, Dr Montague says, so workers are able to apply a “palliative care lense” to the home care services they would normally provide.

“You’re going to get a different type of care when someone knows what to look out for when a person’s deteriorating and knows the different ways of talking to the patient and family members in difficult circumstances,” he said.

‘Knowing when a person just wants someone to listen to, knowing how to deal with a family member that may be struggling.”

VAD laws set to come into force in NSW

HammondCare, which last year supported more than 2,500 patients to die at home through community based services, is opposed to VAD.

Dr Montague says HammondCare will to work within the confines of the new legislation but its focus will remain on quality palliative care.

“We want to make sure that with VAD that doesn’t get lost in the discussion and there’s appropriate services,” he said.

“We certainly want to make sure that people have access to palliative care and don’t feel that VAD is the only option they have.”

NSW VAD laws will come into effect after an 18 month implementation period.

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