More than three-quarters of people fulfil dying wish

More than three-quarters of people referred to a new community palliative care service in NSW have fulfilled their wish of dying at home, according to figures released today.

In comparison, Palliative Care Australia research shows that while 74 per cent of Australians would prefer to die at home, only 16 per cent do, with the vast majority of Australians dying in hospital.The figures, released by HammondCare to coincide with National Palliative Care Week (24-29 May), show that since the program began in late 2013 in seven Local Health Districts in NSW, the Palliative Care Home Support program has been accessed by more than 400 people with 76 per cent dying at home.

HammondAtHome General Manger, Sally Yule, said this was a significant initial result when compared to statistics for the general population.

“This program is all about providing people with choice and flexibility at a critical time of their lives,” Ms Yule said. “It is all about the patient, their family and what is helpful to them.

“We see that with the proper support, people are more likely to be able to die at home if they choose. Often people are scared or don’t have the confidence or knowledge to do this, and combined with a lack of access to specialist palliative care support, it means often this choice is denied.

“This is a little talked about issue, but one that affects every one of us. It is important for our human dignity that we have some choice and flexibility in deciding where we wish to die,” Ms Yule said.

Innovative, ground-breaking program

HammondCare’s lead palliative care academic, Professor Rod MacLeod, said that after devoting 25 years of his career to palliative care, his past year’s work with the Palliative Care Home Support program was “perhaps the most significant.”

“This is proving to be an innovative, ground-breaking program that’s making an enormous difference in the lives of many families,” Prof MacLeod said.

“The figure of 76 per cent is a stunning result so soon. Instead of the clinical and often intimidating atmosphere of hospital – people are being given the choice of dying with, as I put it, ‘The wind in their hair and the sun on their back.’

“Palliative care is and always has been about ‘dying with dignity’ – enabling people to spend their final days in as much comfort and care as we can physically offer. Now, more and more this can happen in the place of their choice,” Prof MacLeod said.

HammondCare operates the service in a consortium with Sacred Heart Health Service and Calvary Health Care Sydney.

The Palliative Care Home Support Program is funded by the NSW Ministry of Health and is a key initiative under the State Government’s $35 million commitment to increase access to community-based palliative care.

For more information and statistics about the Palliative Care Home Support program see the backgrounder (under Links).

Media inquiries to Jenny Stevenson: 0402214039, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.