New options for palliative care patients

Palliative care patients and their families in the Bega Valley Shire now have more options for end of life care, thanks to a collaboration between NSW Ambulance and the region’s largest health agencies.

The Southern NSW Medicare Local and the Southern NSW Local Health District have joined forces with NSW Ambulance to promote a protocol that allows paramedics to treat palliative patients in their own home on the instructions of their GP rather than transfer them to hospital.

At an event earlier this month to launch the project, SNSWML chief executive officer Kathryn Stonestreet explained that a NSW Ambulance authorised palliative care plan allows the paramedic responding to a Triple Zero (000) call to treat the patient in their own home according to the GP’s prescribed orders detailed in the plan. “This could involve administering additional pain medication or providing respiratory assistance”, she said.

“At the end of life, many people express the wish to be cared for in the familiarity and comfort of their own home and this protocol permits that.”

According to Ms Stonestreet, the partnership began when the Medicare Local became aware of the NSW Ambulance authorised palliative care plan as part of its work to improve after hours health services for southern NSW communities.

“Together we developed guidelines for GPs and a brochure for palliative care patients which have now been distributed throughout southern NSW,” she said.

NSW Ambulance southern region clinical support manager Mark Gibbs said utilising the resources and networks of the Medicare Local to promote the plan is proving beneficial. “The partnership with the Medicare Local has allowed us to get the plan where it’s needed: in the hands of GPs and palliative care patients,” he said.

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