A dedicated ambulance will grant Queenslanders dying wishes thanks to a new partnership between the Palaszczuk Government and Palliative Care Queensland’s.
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles said Ambulance Wish Queensland would allow terminally ill Queenslanders to achieve wishes they would otherwise be unable to achieve.
“Many people remember that very touching photograph of QAS staff in Hervey Bay with a terminally ill patient that they’d taken to look at the ocean while transporting her,” Mr Miles said.
“She was able to see Fraser Island in the distance and smell the salty air before going home for the last time, per her request.
“There have been several other stories of Australian paramedics performing similar impromptu acts of kindness for people approaching the end of life, and Palliative Care Queensland’s Ambulance Wish Queensland program is essentially trying to create a sustainable program for these acts of kindness.
“Fulfilling the final wishes of people can be challenging as you could be transporting someone who can’t walk, or sit in a chair, or who might require continuous oxygen or other medical appliances and support.
“With the Ambulance Wish Queensland program medically trained volunteers, adapted ambulances, and necessary equipment will transport people to fulfil their wish successfully and safely.
The Queensland Government has contributed a de-commissioned ambulance and initial funding of $50,000.
“I know Palliative Care Queensland has more donation and support opportunities, including decommissioned vehicles, parking, vehicle maintenance, electronic stretchers, and marketing and promotion.
“It’s a fantastic initiative and I would encourage businesses and individuals to support it however you can.”
Palliative Care Queensland CEO Shyla Mills said Ambulance Wish Queensland was modelled on a program that started in the Netherlands, which has been adopted in many other countries including the US and UK, but this was the first time it would be available in Australia.
“We are the first to bring it to Australia, after a member of the community on the Gold Coast was inspired and approached us about the idea,” Ms Mills said.
“Excellent palliative care includes working with clients to help them identify realistic goals or wishes and then supporting them to fulfil these. Ambulance Wish Queensland will provide the support needed to enable this for people requiring a stretcher.
“This program is not only beneficial to the wish recipient and their families, it is a wonderful opportunity for health professionals to volunteer and be a part of the last wish experience.”
Ms Mills said the program was currently recruiting and training volunteers and seeking support from donors, sponsors and partners to enable wishes to be fulfilled from later this year.
Requests for wishes will officially open on December 1 at the Palliative Care in Queensland Annual Awards Dinner at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.
“Every Queenslander is touched by loss, dying and grief at one point in their life,” Ms Mills said. “Palliative Care Queensland is a small charity and peak body. This new program will enable us to reach more people and help Queenslanders living with a terminal illness fulfil their final wishes.”
The $55,000 funding provided by Queensland Health is in addition to $506,000 of funding being provided to PCQ over two years to continue to support Queenslanders experiencing loss, dying and grief.
An additional $17 million was provided in the 2019-20 State Budget over 2019-20 and 2020-21 for initiatives in rural and remote areas to support the delivery of palliative care to people in community-based settings.