Maintaining dignity and supporting quality of life through palliative care

Canberrans are being encouraged this National Palliative Care Week to thank the health care professionals and volunteers who provide dedicated, respectful and compassionate palliative care services to our community.

This year National Palliative Care Week, running from 19 to 25 May, focuses on the people at the heart of quality palliative care.

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said all palliative care teams and volunteers play a crucial role in the ACT’s health care system, especially at this extremely difficult and vulnerable stage in someone’s life.

“Having skilled palliative care professionals and volunteers providing person and family-centred care can make a big difference in how someone experiences their final stages of life. I am grateful for each and every one of these dedicated individuals and the diverse range of palliative care services they deliver in the ACT,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

Minister Stephen-Smith said the ACT’s range of palliative care services mean the community has access to clinical and non-clinical end-of-life care options at home, in hospital, in aged care or in a hospice environment.

“People who access palliative care services have a diverse range of needs and preferences. This is why the government has prioritised and invested in different palliative care options for our community,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

“In the 2021-22 Budget the ACT Government invested more than $16 million over four years to expand inpatient beds and home-based palliative care services at Clare Holland House, building on the jointly funded infrastructure investment in this beloved healthcare service with the Commonwealth Government and Snow Foundation that provided more inpatient and family spaces.

“At Canberra Hospital, the 2022-23 ACT Budget allocated over $15 million in capital funding to deliver a new 12-bed palliative care ward, with a head contractor for construction expected to be appointed later this year. This new ward will complement the existing Palliative Care Specialist Service at Canberra Hospital, enabling patients to receive specialist palliative care as they approach the end of their life in an environment that will help to ensure dignity and comfort.

“The ACT Government also continues to invest in a range of community-led palliative care services to provide care and support options that suit the individual.”

In the 2023-24 ACT Budget, the ACT Government allocated $2.6 million in funding for the ongoing operation of Leo’s Place, run by Palliative Care ACT, which is the Territory’s only non-clinical, home-like respite facility for carers and patients, providing day and overnight respite for people with a life-limiting illness.

This is in addition to the Government’s continued funding of $630,000 annually for Palliative Care ACT for its important advocacy work and coordination of an extensive volunteer program.

ACT Health also provides $120,000 annually to Community Options to support nurse-led coordination of in-home support services for people with end-stage illness, and their families.

“Thank you to all of our palliative care staff and volunteers who everyday support people in our community with a life-limiting illness when they need it most,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

Quotes attributed to Todd Kaye, Executive Director of Allied Health and Palliative Care at North Canberra Hospital:

“Our palliative care services at Clare Holland House are tailored to each patient and are delivered by our team of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, social workers and pastoral care professionals.”

“We focus on supporting patients and families who are dealing with a life limiting illness. Our goal is to help people achieve dignity, comfort and maximise the quality of life as they progress into end of life.”

“We are thankful to be able to do what we do every day and are humbled to be able to keep supporting clients and their families at a difficult stage of their life journey.”

/Public Release. View in full here.