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Palliative Care Document Generates Strong Support

Palliative Care Document Generates Strong Public Support

A discussion document which aims to improve the provision and funding of palliative care services within New Zealand has drawn strong support from the public.

A total of 116 submissions were lodged in response to the New Zealand Palliative Care Strategy Discussion Document which will see systematic and informed approach to the future provision and funding of palliative care services. Twelve public meetings and focus groups were also held around the country, each generating wide public interest and discussion.

Fifty per cent of the submissions were from service providers and organisations, and 50 per cent from health professions and members of the public.

Health Funding Authority clinical advisor and member of the joint Ministry of Health and Health Funding Authority project team, Laura Lambie, said that the consultation process has generated some useful comment on the detail of the strategy. It has also provided very strong support for development of a palliative care strategy.

"Some of the issues raised included the availability of palliative care services 24 hours a day, access to services for people in rural areas, the needs for palliative care for people with non-malignant disease and the availability of appropriate palliative care services for children.

"There is also a clear need to ensure palliative care services meet the needs of Maori and Pacific people, that information is available about the services that are available and that there is a need for more Maori and Pacific health professionals in the palliative care workforce.

The palliative care strategy is currently being finalised and will take into consideration the suggestions and issues raised. The document is expected to go to Cabinet by the end of the month. The Palliative Care Strategy will be implemented within the framework set by the New Zealand Health Strategy and the New Zealand Disability Strategy.

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Background Information

Palliative care is the care of people who are dying from active, progressive diseases or conditions that are not responsive to curative treatment. It embraces the physical, social, emotional and spiritual elements of well-being - tinana, whânau, hinengaro and wairua - and enhances a person's quality of life while they are dying. Palliative care also supports the bereaved family/whânau following death.

The palliative care strategy has been developed because: evidence shows palliative care is effective in improving the quality of life for people who are dying palliative care needs to be better understood and accepted by health professionals so that dying people have timely access to palliative care there is a demonstrable need for palliative care now and increasingly into the future palliative care provision is complex and there are a range of issues that need to be addressed.

Key objectives of the strategy are to: raise awareness of the importance of good palliative care incorporate work already done in relation to palliative care develop a practical strategy that builds on current service arrangements (including services provided by hospices, hospitals, general practitioners (GPs), district nurses, Mäori health providers and charitable organisations such as the Cancer Society) learn from overseas directions in palliative care that point to the need for more co-ordination and integration of services develop a more responsive system that can support people's choice to die at home: research shows that 50 to 70 percent of people would prefer to have the choice of home care. At present, only 31 percent of people with cancer die at home (although for Mäori and Pacific people the figure is 53 and 42 percent respectively).

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