Our major new Palliative Care service brings end-of-life care into homes across NSW

HammondCare has been successful in the NSW Community Palliative Care Tender announced in Parliament today by Minister for Health Jillian Skinner.

"HammondCare’s proposal was one of three successful tenders in a competitive field. Funds will be held centrally by HammondCare with packages administered through HammondAtHome’s Supportive Care Agency," Stephen said.Chief Executive Stephen Judd said he was delighted that HammondCare had been successful with its tender, signing a three year contract with NSW Ministry of Health to provide Palliative Care Home Support Packages in seven NSW Local Health Districts.

Support for dying at home

Surveys consistently show that while up to three-quarters of Australians would prefer to die at home, only 16 per cent of people with life-limiting illnesses do so.

Apart from the known workforce shortage of specialist palliative care nurses and doctors, there are two main causes for this gap:

  • Lack of access to well-trained specialist supportive palliative care workers, available day and night, to support individuals to remain at home at the end-of-life; and
  • Perceived lack of knowledge and skills in generalist trained, non-specialist doctors and nurses providing end-of-life care in the community, especially in rural and remote settings.

The HammondCare consortium comprising HammondCare, St Vincent’s & Mater Health and Calvary Health Care Sydney Ltd, in collaboration with participating LHDs and specialist palliative care services, proposed to address the end-of-life care gap with three strategies:

A. Palliative Care Home Support Packages - The provision of end-of-life packages for up to 48 hours of specialised supportive palliative home-based care, day or night, provided by community workers specifically trained for the task and working as part of existing specialist palliative care multidisciplinary teams.

B. State-wide education - The provision of state-wide access to two collaborative (HammondCare, Calvary, the Cunningham Centre for Palliative Care and Sacred Heart) education programs: one delivered through the HammondCare Registered Training Organisation (RTO) to train and up-skill the supportive palliative community care workers; and one delivered interactively from HammondCare’s University-linked Clinical Training Centres to community professionals working in end-of-life care, including GPs, nurses, allied health and welfare staff, supporting care provision in people’s homes.

C. Evaluation - Evaluation of quality and service outcomes, and independent evaluation of educational programs. In order to ensure patients of all ages are able to access the palliative care home support services.

At the request of the Ministry of Health, the service will include Paediatric Palliative Home Care Support Packages, with staged access after a six month consultation period working with the three NSW paediatric palliative care clinical networks (Westmead Children’s, Sydney Children’s and John Hunter) to establish parameters for the packages in a paediatric environment.

Additional tailored training will be provided to care workers by participating specialist paediatric palliative care teams.

Complementing exisiting services

The proposal complements and links with existing specialist clinical palliative care services and aims to reduce inappropriate use of scarce acute and sub-acute hospital bed capacity and community nursing resources, as people are supported to die at home.

The initiative will be a key hospital avoidance measure as well as giving patients increased opportunity to die at home if that is their wish. The delivery of the 48 hours of end of life care may be consecutive hours, or may be spread over several weeks and result in decisions not to admit patients to acute hospitals, hence avoiding costly admissions into acute hospital beds.

The proposed program is patient and carer focused. Where there is no-one providing care at home, it will fill that gap; where carers are stressed or fatigued, it will provide extra support to enable them to continue.

Stephen said, "This iniative is an excellent example of the integration of HammondCare’s sub-acute and aged care services and the improved outcome available to the clients and patients we serve.

"Congratulations to everyone involved in this successful result."

Expanding capacity for HammondAtHome

General Manager of HammondAtHome, Sally Yule said administration of the Palliative Care Home Support Packages was an exciting opportunity for the recently created Supportive Care Agency.

"This innovative agency, based at Neringah and overseen by Cheryl Johnson, will further expand to facilitate growth in private and brokered care as well as creating a central pool of skilled care staff working across dementia care, palliative care and restorative care.

"This is all part of HammondAtHome building capacity in response to increased demand for subsidised care, private care and brokered care service provision."