The funding will be rolled out over a five-year period with an initial $19 million being released immediately with the aim of providing more choice and control of support and care for Victorians and particularly those living in regional areas.
State Minister for Health Jill Hennessy insists the funding will make a “real difference” in the palliative care sector.
“We’re supporting quality and compassionate end-of-life and palliative care that relieves pain and suffering, and helps family, friends and carers,” Ms Hennessy explains.
“This investment builds on our work to ensure that more Victorians can die at home, surrounded by their loved ones.
“It will make a real difference to our hardworking palliative care workers and services across the state – particularly in regional Victoria – and will help more people get the care and support they need.”
The overall $62 million in funding will provide:
- $19.9 million to support home-based palliative care immediately across regional and rural Victoria to provide care for an additional 1,215 people and their families each year
- $6.25 million to establish a 24-hour expert advice line to address variability of access to after-hours palliative care advice for clients, carers and generalist health services, and address gaps for people living in rural areas
- $19.5 million to better respond to demand and patient complexity by providing additional palliative care physician or nurse practitioner positions in Regional Palliative Care Consultancy Services
- $10 million in one off grants for end of life auxiliary support services to assist people, families and carers to manage the day to day activities associated with caring for someone with a terminal illness at home
- $6.35 million from 2018-19 in the event that Voluntary Assisted Dying is legalised to support the families of people who have accessed Voluntary Assisted Dying
In addition to the additional funding being announced, the government has also put its support behind an independent review of palliative care funding to address any inequities that exist with the current model.
It has been revealed that the review, led by Melbourne Health Board Chair Robert Doyle, St Vincent’s Health Australia Deputy Chair Patricia Faulkner and Goulburn Valley Hospice Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Carmel Smith, will consider how to improve sustainability for palliative care services and boost their capacity to deliver flexible patient-centred care.
Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) has welcomed the funding and independent review with CEO Pat Sparrow saying the peak body understands how important choice is for palliative care patients and their families.
“We hope this funding commitment affords many more terminally ill Victorians and their families increased choice and flexibility when it comes to making those very personal decisions about their end of life care,” Ms Sparrow says.
She adds that palliative and end-of-life care are important elements of the overall service delivered by the aged care industry.
“Our workforce delivers palliative care and services to older Australians in a range of different settings, and it is imperative that we continue to support people to receive these services in their place of choice, whether that is in their own home or in residential aged care,” she continues.
“We are pleased to see a portion of that additional funding directed towards supporting home-based palliative care services in regional and remote areas where there is acute need for more carers and health services to support those living with terminal illness.”
In March this year, the Victorian government also announced a $5 million equipment and infrastructure grant for community palliative care agencies to assist in delivering care in people’s homes.