More than 70 per cent of people fulil dying wish

More than 70 per cent of people referred to a new community palliative care service in NSW have fulfilled their wish of dying at home, according to latest figures released in National Palliative Care Week.

The figures show that since the Palliative Care Home Support Program (PCHSP) began in NSW in late 2013, 72 per cent of recipients (1,280 people) have been able to die at home, as they wished.*

In comparison, a report by the Grattan Institute** shows that 70 per cent of people in Australia want to die at home, yet only about 14 per cent do so, with the majority of Australians dying in hospital.

It also shows that people are twice as likely to die at home in countries such as New Zealand, the United States, Ireland and France.

General Manager, Health and Hospitals, HammondCare, Stewart James said the results were very pleasing, particularly for people in rural and regional areas, where there is a significant need for community palliative care services.

“This Program is particularly well-suited to regional and rural areas because care can be provided by local staff in patients’ own communities.”

Ratings by Local Health District (LHD):
  • Far West LHD: 89 per cent (Includes Broken Hill)
  • Southern NSW LHD: 80 per cent (Includes towns like Cooma, Goulburn, Queanbeyan)
  • Central Coast LHD: 79 per cent (Includes towns like Gosford, Wyong, The Entrance)
  • South East Sydney LHD: 73 per cent (Includes Sydney CBD, Kograh and Sutherland Shire)
  • Northern Sydney LHD: 71 per cent (Includes North Shore, Manly, Ku-ring-gai)
  • Murrumbidgee LHD: 62 per cent (Includes towns like Griffith, Wagga Wagga and Albury)
  • Western NSW LHD: 62 per cent (Includes towns like Orange, Bathurst and Dubbo)

These figures show that some of the highest home death rates over the past three years, were in rural and regional areas of NSW.

2000 helped, 800 trained

HammondCare, in partnership with Sacred Heart Health Service and Calvary Health Care Sydney, runs the PCHSP program in seven LHDs in NSW.

Packaged, the Program offers 48 hours of palliative care at home; hours can be provided consecutively or in smaller blocks as needed over time, with care including overnight care, domestic support, personal care and basic nursing care.

The Program has helped over 2000 people and more than 800 care workers have also been trained in palliative care as part of the initiative, many in rural and remote areas, since its introduction in late 2013. As part of the Program, an educational website has also been developed, which contains up to date information about palliative care – www.palliativecarebridge.com.au

Mr James said a recent evaluation of the Program, shows that apart from providing people with the important choice about where they wish to die, it was also a cost-effective health policy.

Evaluation findings
  • The program is efficient and cost-effective – more than half the cost per patient compared to inpatient palliative care.
  • People are grateful for the choice of being able to die at home and the way the program is offered.
  • There has been good reach in rural and remote areas.

Mr James said research shows that with an ageing population, the number of people to die in Australia is expected to double over the next 25 years: “This service, which provides people with choice and flexibility at a critical time of their lives, has the potential to be significantly expanded throughout the State and beyond.

“Australians deserve the choice to die at home – and it is through innovative Programs like this, that we can make a significant difference in the lives of many families,” Mr James said.

The PCHSP is funded by the NSW Ministry of Health, as an initiative under the NSW Government’s $35 million commitment to increase access to community-based palliative care. Funding for the HammondCare PCHSP is guaranteed until July 2018.

For more information about the Program phone 1300 884 304.

*Figures quoted for PCHSP are from Oct 2013 until end April 2017

**Grattan Institute, “Dying Well”, Sept 2014