Cutting Through Political Scrub.
01 July 2016.
Draft Climate Change Strategy Submission- March 2016
Tas gov draft climate change strategy submission by Jen Brown
End of Life Service Too Valuable To Lose.
We have heard a lot in the media lately about the right to die and the emotive issues surrounding euthanasia. In the midst of the arguments there is a very important, yet simple aspect of the death debate that can be overlooked. It is the importance for all individuals of ‘being comfortable with the process of death itself’.
As a Registered nurse I have worked in palliative care in both community and hospital settings. I am struck time and again in this work by the direct relationship between an uncomfortable death and a lack of acceptance of death.
When an individual or their family are fighting the idea of death, the dying person is not given the strength or permission to let go and die. The drive and pressure to hold on for oneself or loved ones can result in a battle to survive, fighting physical and emotional pain and more time spent suffering. This tension can make the process of dying very challenging for everyone.
There is one certain thing that helps. A quality palliative care team under the direction of a specialist nurse can provide valuable information and understanding of the dying process which helps relax the family, friends and individual who is dying. This is now an invaluable service provided to an increasing number people who choose to die at home.
The hospice@HOME service provides people nearing the end of life with the choice to die at home, or stay at home for as long as they wish. Packages of care provide a mix of clinical and other services through face-to-face visits and 24/7 telephone advice, ensuring patients and their families have optimal support at this critical time. Packages are adapted to individual needs and are designed to complement, not duplicate existing services. They give the dying and their families a sense of control and the necessary care to enable them to manage this intense time in the best way possible – in other words to have ‘a good death’.
The hospice@HOME funding is part of the Better Access to Palliative Care funding that was received across three organisations in Tasmania, DHHS, Palliative Care Tasmania (formerly known as TAHPC) and The District Nurses. The funding is part of the Tasmanian Health Assistance Package and was for 3 years of funding to end June 2016. The funding for The District Nurses was to deliver 2000 packages of care over the three years. They have delivered just over 1500 packages of care to date supporting people who wish to die in their own home to do so. They have over 500 people currently receiving care across the State from the hospice@HOME packages. However because of the setup and lead in time for the service to become operational The District Nurses are concerned about ongoing funding to enable the continuation of care to existing clients and to meet future needs.
Sadly, The District Nursing Service are currently struggling for a response from the federal government with regards to their hospice@HOME service as funding is set to be cut off at the end of June 2016.
A number of packages are still available for use but without support from the Federal government to extend the program beyond June, the program will lose these packages and a number of individuals who would benefit will miss out resulting in a increasing numbers of difficult, uncertain and uncomfortable deaths in the Tasmanian community.
As a registered nurse, public health consultant and Greens Party Candidate for Denison in the House of Representatives I urge the Federal Health Minister, Sussan Ley to engage with The District Nurses to ensure as a minimum these packages can be delivered beyond June with a view to considering ongoing funding of the hospice@HOME across Tasmania.