In our region, around 1,600 people would benefit from some form of end of life care each year, which equates to more than 133 people each month.
This year, we started an End of Life Care initiative, that involves collaboration and input from GPs, hospital staff in palliative care and nursing, residential aged care workers, sociological and psychological experts, and NSW Ambulance.
The project will help us to understand our strengths and the areas that need development in relation to end of life care in primary care and residential aged care facilities in our region, and set up strategies to address those things.
Research has already commenced and at series of workshops that started in September and continue this month, early findings are being shared and reviewed by the people in the healthcare sector involved in end of life care.
While it is still early days, our initial findings indicate an underlying issue that then compounds every other issue. People are not comfortable talking about death. This forces end of life care discussions to happen during the time of crisis, when decisions may be less considered or made by people other than the person in the end of life stage. By talking and planning end of life care earlier, more suitable plans can be arranged and responded to when the time comes.
So far, other issues raised are in relation to the availability of culturally appropriate services, and providers having the capacity and capability to identify the right time to start these discussions and how to escalate them.
By the conclusion of the End of Life Care project, we will have a report on the end of life care needs across the region identifying our gaps and strengths, and a commissioning model for a pilot.