Wednesday, 29 June 2022
    Palliative care funding needed
    Health Care

    Palliative care funding needed

    Julie Maihi-Taniora knows all too well the value of palliative care nurses, ABC News reports.

    "When I first heard that they wanted to put me in palliative care, I thought 'that's just end of life'," she said.

    "But it actually isn't. It's helping you enjoy life 'til the end of life, which is absolutely amazing."

    For those who are able to access regular palliative care, it can make the final weeks and months more positive and comfortable. For the community, it eases the pressure on overstretched hospitals.

    Palliative carers have not just helped Ms Maihi-Taniora deal with the physical pain of pancreatic cancer, but also the mental toll terminal illness can take.

    They've also helped her plan for her death. Ms Maihi-Taniora hopes she can die at home.

    "It's actually quite funny because when you've got mortality staring you in the face, it's like OK, now I've got a choice of what I want to happen whereas if I was in a car accident, there is no choice,'' she said.

    Her experience has been a meaningful one, but others are missing out on having the same support.

    Providers say there simply aren't enough trained staff for the patients who need them. According to a KPMG report for Palliative Care Australia, demand will increase by 50 per cent by 2035 and double by 2050.

    As the election gears up, palliative care advocates are urging the major parties to commit to more funding for the sector, and they say it can be cost neutral.

    Palliative Care Australia's budget submission says a $240 million yearly increase to home and community care would allow an extra 35,000 Australians to die in their homes. Last year, a total of 150,000 people died in Australia.

    An increase in deaths at home would help hospitals.

    KPMG analysis for the sector predicts it would result in 28,500 fewer emergency department visits and 200,000 fewer hospital bed days. And while this is a drop in the ocean, it would likely be a cost-neutral policy.

    In one part of outer Melbourne alone, more than 140 hospital admissions this year were avoided after a $300,000 state government grant to deal with COVID-19.


    Palliative care funding could benefit the whole health system, advocates say in election push (ABC News)


    Julie Maihi-Taniora wants others to have the support she gets as a terminally ill patient.(ABC News: Richard Willingham)