The ACT Government has unveiled a plan to deal with a predicted surge in demand for palliative care services in Canberra over the next five years.
The Government’s Palliative Care Services Plan predicts demand for palliative services at Canberra and Calvary hospitals will rise by nearly 3.5 per cent per year due to population growth, aging and increased incidence of cancer.
The plan outlines a strategy to meet this growing demand and raise community awareness about end-of-life care services.
It aims to improve access to palliative care by children, people with disabilities, and people from culturally diverse backgrounds.
It also aims for more seamless transitions for patients between care venues and more coordinated care.
There will be a funding boost to improve the workforce and more dedicated palliative care beds, jumping from 19 to 25 beds in 2016-17 and then to 30 beds in 2021-22.
“Often the focus of a health system is on preserving life but we must also provide comfortable and safe ways for people in our community to die with dignity and put in place a medically supervised end of life plan,” Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said.
Ms Gallagher says the plan also recognises that family and friends of someone who is nearing the end of their life may also require assistance and support from palliative care professionals.
“The plan seeks to focus on educating the community about what services are available and also how these services can make what is a difficult time more manageable and an experience that is as comfortable as possible while respecting the wishes of individuals,” she said.
She says the plan will be subject to ongoing consultation with the community and key medical stakeholders.