Calls for urgent overhaul

Palliative Care South East's new facility coming to Narre Warren. 283860_02 Picture: MARCUS UHE

By Marcus Uhe

Palliative Care Victoria (PCV) and its 85 member organisations including Palliative Care South East are calling for an immediate increase in funding for Palliative Care services.

It comes on the back of the release of data that predicts the sector faces a potential shortfall of $91 million in annual funding by 2025.

The Sustainability of Palliative Care in Victoria report prepared by KPMG, released on Thursday 15 September and found more than half of Victoria’s palliative care providers are at breaking point and unable to meet current demand for their services, whilst more than 70% don’t believe they can meet future demand.

Palliative Care South East (PCSE) Chief Executive Kelly Rogerson said Victoria’s ageing population and the pandemic have increased demand for palliative care across the state.

“Demand for community palliative care has skyrocketed as more and more people, with a life-limiting illness, are choosing to avoid hospitals and die at home,” Ms Rogerson said.

“Our service has seen a 50% increase in demand, over the past two years, as people choose to stay at home where they can be surrounded by family and friends without restrictions.”

In addition to the expected $91 million required to implement Victoria’s current End of Life Palliative Care Framework, PCV and its members are calling for an additional $31 million per year in immediate funding to future-proof the sector and ensure increased and equitable access for residents of aged care facilities, access to overnight respite for carers, an investment in workforce training and education and a community awareness campaign.

More than 1300 clients with a life-limiting illness were referred to PCSE in the last financial year.

Last month, PCSE supported 78 clients in Melbourne’s South East to die.

“All Victorians should have the right to live, die and grieve well but we cannot fully implement Victoria’s palliative care and end of life framework without more funding,” Ms Rogerson said.

A Victorian Government Spokesperson said they are investing in the sector, including $2 million for PCSE’s new facility in Narre Warren.

“We want to ensure all Victorians can continue receiving high-quality and compassionate end of life care across a range of community settings including in their homes, residential facilities, and primary care,” the spokesperson said.

“This is why we are investing $32.4 million into palliative care services here in Victoria to ensure that all Victorians can access the same support and care.

“We’re also investing billions into the health system to address the ongoing demand exacerbated by the pandemic – so all Victorians can access the best care as soon as they need it, close to home.”

PCSE is a not-for-profit, home based palliative care service supporting individuals with a life-limiting or terminal illness and their carers and families to residents of Dandenong, Casey, Cardinia and part of Kingston.