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Palliative care is specialist care for people living with incurable and life-limiting illnesses with the primary goal of quality of life . It involves a team approach with a focus on managing symptoms and helping the family unit adjust from the idea of treatment being used to cure their loved ones.
Death in Australia is more institutionalised than in the much of the world. Studies consistently show that almost 70% of Australians would prefer to die at home, with hospitals their least preferred place. Over the past century, home deaths have declined and hospital and aged care deaths have increased. Today only about 14% of people die at home each year. Over half the remaining deaths occur in hospitals. With almost 70% of deaths “expected” our aim should be trying to improve the disparity between preferred and actual site of end of life care.
Regional and rural GPs can help patients navigate the confusing service networks and advocate for their wishes. This is demonstrated by an innovative model in Creswick and Clunes commenced in 2015. By improving access to expert and local care actual and preferred place of care and death was achieved for 91% of patients – without government or health service funding.
Community organisations are ideally placed to initiate and open the discussion about death and dying with patients and families but they need support to be sustainable. With highly trained health professionals with a passion for increasing our palliative care commitment to the region, Shannon’s Bridge have an opportunity to extend an innovative model based on the Compassionate Community model where local people can access expert and local care with the aim of not just a “good death”, but better living – and to be where they want to be for whatever time they have left.
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