Terminally ill Victorians will have better access to palliative care services and more choice about where they die under the Andrews Government’s announcement that it will invest an additional $62 million in the sector.
The significant funding boost over five years, with $19 million in the first year, will provide more terminally ill Victorians with the opportunity to die at home if that is their preference.
The funding is on top of a $5 million equipment and infrastructure grant announced earlier this year for community palliative care agencies to provide home care.
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said ‘This much needed funding will strengthen palliative care services and enable them to increase capacity and redesign themselves to be more responsive to the needs of dying Victorians and their families.
‘We particularly welcome the focus on regional and rural services to ensure people have access to timely, high-quality care and can die at home or in their local community surrounded by their loved ones.
‘Increasing the number of palliative care nurses caring for patients is also important to improve the quality of care,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said.
Earlier this year ANMF submitted a comprehensive claim to improve nurse/midwife patient ratios across the Victorian public acute and aged care services. The mandated ratios are outlined in the Safe Patient Care Act.
The current palliative care ratios are one nurse to four patients, plus a nurse in charge on the morning shift; one nurse to five patients, plus a nurse in charge on the afternoon shift; and one nurse to eight patients on the night shift.
ANMF is seeking an additional nurse on the afternoon shift and an additional two nurses on the night shift.
The ratios improvement taskforce has been considering submissions for ratio changes and is expected to make its recommendations to Health Minister Jill Hennessy by the end of the year.