Significant increase in palliative care services provided at home

Paul Hayes

26/05/2021 2:02:27 PM

Medicare-subsidised in-home palliative care services almost doubled between 2015–16 and 2019–20, according to a new AIHW report.

Older man and wife with nurse
A total of 2240 patients received home visits in 2019–20.

One in 10 palliative care-related services in Australia is provided at home, a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has found.
According to the report, home visits for palliative care specialist services increased by an annual average of 18% between 2015–16 and 2019–20, with a total of 2240 patients receiving home visits in 2019–20.
However, most palliative care services continue to be received in a hospital or surgery, with such services increasing by 12% over the same five-year period.
While it has historically been assumed that palliative care will only commence once all treatment aimed at ‘curing’ people has finished or when a person is dying, it is now well accepted that there is benefit in providing palliative care in association with disease-modifying therapies that aim to prolong life.
It is also recognised that many people with life-limiting illnesses are not ‘cured’ but continue to live with these illnesses for many years.
‘Providing palliative care-related services in the home can be important for people with a life-limiting illness and their families, enabling them to remain in or return to their preferred location,’ AIHW spokesperson Sushma Mathur said.
Overall, 88,605 MBS-subsidised palliative medicine specialist services were provided in 2019–20, which represents an average annual increase of 4.4% per year over the previous five years. A total of $7.1 million was paid in benefits for MBS-subsidised palliative medicine specialist services in 2019–20, an average of $417 per patient.
Voluntary assisted dying legislation is currently being debated in Queensland and South Australia, with many calling for increased funding for palliative care.
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Dr Graham James Lovell   28/05/2021 11:59:57 PM

Sadly $0 is being spent on funding Specialist Palliative Care to Adelaide hills PHN Palliative care patients. I had an extremely complex terminal cancer patient move into this region and found the only service provided was a fortnightly remote Central Adelaide Palliative Consultant link to support the Nurse. I wasn’t even warned by the nurse that she had no available Palliative care doctor for some weeks until the patient was in crisis. Third World level services within a half hour of a Capital City.
Surely these communities deserve better.