Country Women’s Association (CWA) of NSW launches campaign for regional palliative care units.

Country Women’s Association (CWA) of NSW launches campaign for regional palliative care units.

The CWA of NSW is campaigning for the units to be set-up in all regional hospitals, claiming this would improve the end-of-life experience for patients and their loved ones. President of CWA of NSW, Joy Beames, said the issue was “so important” because, without a dedicated unit for palliative care, it was difficult for families to spend time alone with their loved one at such an important time.

Acting CEO of PCNSW, Megan Asbury,  said she supported a push for more palliative care options in the community, however there would likely be “a few challenges” in regional hospitals with recruiting nurses to staff dedicated units – and therefore the CWA campaign might not be practical.

“Feasibility-wise there isn’t currently enough staff, enough nurses and clinicians, to adequately staff a palliative care unit in a lot of these hospitals and the problem is that … if there were palliative care units in some of these areas, it would take the community nurses out of the community and into these wards,” Ms Asbury told the Daily Liberal.

Ms Asbury advised priorities should be around community awareness about palliative care options at home and attracting more nurses to work in the regions and specialise in palliative care.

“[Palliative care is] not just that last week or days in hospital, it’s actually an approach to caring and providing care for someone who’s approaching the end of their life – and it can be introduced much earlier in their illness,” Ms Asbury said.

“[If] you consider that 80 per cent of deaths are predictable, it’s really important that palliative care is introduced early, particularly for people in regional areas where it’s more difficult to access – and then that can help avoid that crisis right at the end of life.”

Ms Asbury said she would like to see improved access to community nursing to support more people to die at home. “When you ask most people, they don’t want to die in a hospital, they want to die at home,” she said.

Ms Asbury encouraged CWA members across NSW to speak with their local health districts in each area – including Dubbo – to work out a model that would work in each region.

A spokesperson for the Western NSW Local Health District said there is already “high-quality” palliative or end-of-life care available for people across the Dubbo region.

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Source: The Daily Liberal written by Sarah Falson, Journalist, ACM.