Hi it’s Patrik Hutzel from INTENSIVECAREATHOME.COM.AU where we help long-term ventilated Adults& Children with Tracheostomy to improve their Quality of life and where we also help hospitals and Intensive Care Units to save money and resources, whilst providing Quality Care!
In last week’s blog I talked about “How to increase the number of acute admissions in Intensive Care!” You can read watch or listen to it by clicking on this link here
In this week’s blog I want to pick up on a discussion and on suggestions that have been made in the last few weeks by palliative care Australia. “Palliative Care Australia is calling for better end of life care services!” Those discussions and suggestions have been made in relation to a “pre-budget” submission to the federal government!
The discussions and suggestions around end-of life care and palliative care in Australia aligns very well with most of the Philosophy of INTENSIVE CARE AT HOME, as we not only believe, but we are also strong advocates for Patients and their Families who want to have a genuine and dignified alternative to a long-term stay in Intensive Care!
The main points from Palliative Care Australia are summarised here and I have also attached their PDF statements in this blog:
So what are the facts?
• 75% of Australians would prefer to die at home, but less than 20% do.
• 70% of people who die each year would benefit from palliative care services, yet only about 25% access these services.
• Only 20% of aged care residents receive adequate palliative care.
• Fewer than 15% of people who died in residential aged care in 2011-12 were assessed as needing palliative care before they died.
• There are very few referrals to palliative care for people with diagnoses other than cancer.
• More than 50% of people who recently lost a loved one had not discussed end of life care with them, nor were confident their loved one’s end of life wishes were carried out.
‘Our research shows us that 70% of Australians think we don’t talk about death and dying enough and more than 50% of people who had recently lost a loved one had not discussed end of life care with them, nor were they confident their loved one’s end of life wishes were carried out,’ said Dr Luxford who is the CEO of Palliative Care Australia.
‘The majority in our community feel there is a need for greater public dialogue on this issue. Not only does the Government have an obligation to observe international developments, but it needs to listen to the community and keep in step with changing attitudes.’
The latest evidence suggests access to palliative care not only improves the quality of life of people dying from a terminal illness, their families and carers, but also reduces pressure on health budgets.
‘We are conscious that Budget savings are essential and that international studies demonstrate that palliative care service models result in cost savings through reductions in hospital admissions, emergency department visits, laboratory and intensive care unit costs,’ said Dr Luxford. ‘A Productivity Commission Inquiry could easily provide the local evidence to support these economic analyses in an Australian context.’
Access to palliative care is a basic human right and should be available to all people, when and where they need it. Dying Australians’ access to services that support them to live well at the end of life is essentially a lottery based on where they live, their diagnosis, background or age. This is an unacceptable situation.
‘Just 25% of people who could benefit from palliative care services are able to access them each year. Our community expects and deserves better than this,’ said Dr Luxford. ‘If we fail to act, the price to be paid by the community over time will be significantly higher – not only socially, but economically too.’
So what are the benefits?
The benefits of palliative care are increasingly recognised around the world. As services have expanded, evidence has been mounting to suggest access to such services not only significantly improves the experience of patients with terminal illness at the end of life but also reduces pressure on health budgets.
A paper released this month, Evidence on the cost and cost-effectiveness of palliative care: A literature review, evaluated all studies on the cost of palliative care intervention between 2002 and 2011, and found consistently that palliative care was less costly compared to conventional/acute care, and in most cases the difference in cost was statistically significant.
Furthermore, a review of 16 studies on cost-effectiveness of hospice and palliative care conducted for the World Health Organisation and the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance found that cost savings from these models of service were attributed to reductions in the use of medical services, reductions in overall hospital costs, reductions in laboratory and intensive care unit costs and significant decreases in hospital admissions, emergency department visits, the use of outpatient consultation services and residential care facility admissions.4
From a social perspective, it is well documented that palliative care improves the quality of life of people dying from a terminal illness, but also their carers, family members and other loved ones. It addresses pain and suffering and distress in relation to physical, psychological, spiritual and other problems from the point of diagnosis until the end of life, thereby minimising potential flow-on healthcare costs.
Despite these compelling facts, Australia’s approach to providing adequate palliative care services has been piecemeal. Although we are recognised as being at the forefront of international research in this field, our commitment to applying this knowledge on the ground to deliver quality services in our community, is well short of demand.
Access – Demand for palliative care services is growing, Australia’s population is ageing, deaths from chronic diseases and dementia are rising, but current access to adequate palliative care services is very limited. We call for action to:
Awareness – When people don’t discuss or plan for the end of life, it is difficult to provide care for that person according to their wishes, particularly in the event that they lose capacity to make their own decisions. Family members are often left feeling anxious and stressed at an already difficult time. People aren’t aware of what palliative care services are available, or how they can support families.
Quality – The Standards for Providing Quality Palliative Care for all Australians should inform good palliative care practice wherever it is delivered, be included within broader accreditation programs and be promoted as one way in which the community can be sure they will receive high quality services. We call for action to:
• Support the incorporation of the Standards in all settings where palliative care is delivered.
The National Palliative Care Programs
Accreditation for end of life care providers
By addressing these priority action areas, Australia will be in a much stronger position to relieve pressure on the overburdened hospital system; to provide quality, accessible care for all reaching the end of life, and to support those who love and care for them.
What do you think? Are better palliative care services necessary in Australia? Leave your comments on the blog!
Obviously, INTENSIVE CARE AT HOME is a fully accredited Intensive Home Care nursing service and is able to provide Home Care to ventilated Patients with Tracheostomy and if your organisation is interested in providing a genuine and dignified alternative to a long-term stay in Intensive Care, contact us on 03-9939 7456 or contact me directly on 041 094 2230 or send me an email to [email protected]
This is Patrik Hutzel from INTENSIVECAREATHOME.COM.AU and I’ll see you again in another update next week!