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Call to action on home palliative care

David Larmour

David Larmour

The Grattan Institute’s Dying Well report, released earlier this week, has illustrated that more needs to be done to ensure that end-of-life preferences and plans are put in place and more people are able to be supported to die at home if they wish.

That’s according to David Larmour, director of Hospice Care Service with Silver Chain in Western Australia.

Mr Larmour said that Silver Chain had a long-held belief that people want to die at home and its palliative care services support more than 1,000 patients a day across Australia. “During the past financial year, more than 65 per cent of all clients who were receiving home-based palliative care were supported to die at home,” he said.

As Australian Ageing Agenda reported on Monday, the Grattan report found that Australia is lagging behind its fellow OECD countries in the provision of home-based palliative care.

The report shows Australians die at home at half the rate of people in countries such as New Zealand, the US, Ireland and France. While 70 per cent of Australians want to die at home, only 14 per cent do so.

Mr Larmour said that Silver Chain has a large multi-disciplinary palliative care team including community based doctors, nurses, allied health staff and volunteers who provide support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “Together, they ensure that we continue to provide high quality care and deliver excellent patient outcomes,” he said.

He said that Silver Chain supported the recommendations of the Grattan report, which included more public discussion, including an education campaign, about the need to focus on end-of-life care; the widespread adoption of advance care plans; and greater investment in community-based care.

“Our organisation has been able to continue to provide high quality care at home thanks to strong investment from consecutive WA State Governments who recognise and support an alternate proposition to hospital based care for those who are dying,” said Mr Larmour.

Meanwhile, AAA has reported on new initiatives in NSW to upskill community aged care workers in palliative care as part of an integrated approach to supporting more people to die at home.

More than 200 community aged care workers so far have received dedicated training in palliative care home support.

As part of its four-year palliative care strategy, the NSW Government is funding the state-wide roll-out of home-based palliative care packages to support more people to fulfil their wish to die at home. Funding has been provided for the roll-out of up to 2,863 home-based palliative care packages by 2015-16.

Read our report on the NSW initiative here

Read our coverage of the Grattan report here

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