Palliative Care Queensland

Palliative Care Queensland is working with the new voluntary assisted dying process to support improved care for all.

Palliative Care Queensland believes that world-class care for all Queenslanders approaching their end of life is a target we must aspire to in order to support the 30,000 Queenslanders who die each year and their families, friends, loved ones and communities.

Estimates suggest that between 70% and 80% of people who are approaching the end of their life would benefit from palliative care services, including people who decide to access voluntary assisted dying (VAD).

Palliative care might occur in a person’s home, a residential aged care facility, a hospice, or a hospital. The care offered may include the following:

  • Medical treatment
  • Relief of pain and other symptoms, e.g. vomiting, shortness of breath
  • Access to resources such as equipment needed to aid care at home
  • Assistance for families to come together to talk about sensitive issues
  • Links to other services such as home help and financial support
  • Support for people to meet cultural obligations
  • Support for emotional, social and spiritual issues that may arise
  • Counselling and grief support
  • Referrals to respite care services
  • Advanced care planning services

“Voluntary assisted dying is not an alternative to care,” said Palliative Care Queensland CEO Louise O’Neill, “VAD is simply an option available to patients within end-of-life care, and we must be careful to ensure that VAD is not seen as a replacement for world-class palliative care services and grief and bereavement services which are central to supporting individuals, families and communities suffering loss.”

“It is also vital to reinforce that palliative care is not just for the very last days of life. Depending on their circumstances, a person may access palliative care for several years, months, weeks or days; therefore, focusing on a patient’s ability to access equitable and quality care is essential,” said Ms O’Neill.

The sector has welcomed the Queensland Government funding boost of $171 million over six years, which supports increased investment to attract and train an extra 231 front-line healthcare professionals to meet the state’s growing demand for care and choice for Queenslanders approaching their end-of-life.

“Increased funding is greatly welcomed; however, the funding is short of the $275 million per year required to give all Queenslanders equal access to quality palliative care services. If we wish to be a society where every person who dies experiences quality at the end of life, then palliative care must be available for everyone regardless of age, culture, background, beliefs or location, and that will require new models of care, increased investment in facilities, healthcare professionals and support programs.”

“In addition, we must question and challenge taboos and cultural sensitivities about discussing death, dying, and bereavement with the Grattan Institute recognising that a failure to talk about and plan for death is one of the most significant obstacles to improving the quality of dying.”

“Palliative Care Queensland is working closely with our members and the Queensland Government to assist in developing an innovative, appropriate, and culturally sensitive world-class palliative care pathway for Queensland that addresses the challenges facing the sector and community. After all, we all want to live every day to its fullest until our last and world-class palliative care services are central to every Queenslander’s ability to do so,” said Ms O’Neill.

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