AIHW report highlights need for increased choice in palliative care

Figures released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) today highlight the need for increased choice and availability of palliative care, according to HammondCare’s Director for Learning and Research in Palliative Care, A/Prof Josephine Clayton.

“The figures show that hospitalisations for palliative care have risen more quickly than hospitalisations generally - up 19% over a five year period – highlighting the importance of palliative care as an option in hospitals,” A/Prof Clayton said.

“At the same time, we know that most Australians would prefer to die at home, not in hospital, and this option needs to be supported, regardless of where people live.

“Up to 75% of Australians would prefer to die in their home, and where good quality palliative care is available we have seen up to 90%* of people in some areas fulfil their wish to spend their last days in their home surrounded by their loved ones in a familiar environment.

“The AIHW figures highlight the importance of an advance care plan for end of life so there are no doubts regarding an individual’s express wishes, particularly when they are unable to speak for themselves.”

A/Prof Clayton said the rise in palliative care in hospitals underlines the importance of sub-acute hospital services that specialise in the provision of palliative care, often being able to provide this care in a more flexible way, using multidisciplinary teams and at less cost.

“Palliative care we provide at our hospitals, including Greenwich, Neringah and Braeside, in homes, in our residential aged care homes and through in-reach into other services, is focussed on the whole person - their physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs - and ensuring they are as comfortable as possible.”

* 90% in Far Western NSW, 80% in Southern Highlands, 80% Central Coast, 70% in south-east Sydney, 70% in Northern Sydney, 60% in Western NSW and 60% in Murrimbidgee of people involved in the Palliative Care Home Support Program, introduced in 2013 have been able to die at home, as they wished.