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Palliative care service working well


Date: 5 November 2008

Subject: Palliative care service working well

Kahukura, Wairarapa’s new service for caring for people who are terminally ill and their families has completed its first two months with strong demand.

Since it began on 1 September, the service has cared for 66 patients and their families referred by GPs, physicians, community nurses and other health professionals.

Kahukura spokesperson, Maggie Morgan, said the service was caring for people with a wide variety of illnesses and prognoses. “The numbers of people receiving care now are higher than they were when separate services provided palliative care,” said Mrs Morgan. “This indicates that gaps have been filled with more people receiving the care they need, regardless of their illness.”

Mrs Morgan said families had been appreciative of the service and the feedback received by staff had been extremely positive. “The benefits of a range of health providers working under one umbrella are now being seen along with closer working relationships between the palliative care team, community nurses and medical practices.”

“For example, a patient was seen by the service’s specialist Te Omanga doctor at the Martinborough Medical Centre which enabled joint planning with the patient’s GP and community nurse. Staff have been well-placed to support patients in remote rural areas who have chosen to be cared for at home.”

Whaiora chief executive, Hone Hurihanganui, said Whaiora palliative care clients were now receiving holistic care along with a range of other services Whaiora provides that were tailored to their needs. “We remain intimately connected with the client and their family or whānau and our team of Kaikōkiri – Champions of Wellness, work alongside Kahukura to ensure the best for people with terminal illness. The response time is excellent – we had a client seeing the service’s specialist within 48 hours of being embraced by the care that the cloak of Kahukura provides,” he said.

Lead GP for Kahukura, Dr Nick Crozier, said since while GPs had always been involved in palliative care, the new service was bringing greater coordination between general practice, the Wairarapa DHB and residential care facilities. “GPs are becoming more involved with patient care and have been enthusiastic in their uptake of training which is ongoing,” said Dr Crozier.

Training sessions supported by Arohanui Hospice get underway this week for local general practice teams. Members of the local palliative care team including a social worker, pharmacist, occupational therapist, and spiritual and cultural advisors will assist with the training.

Mrs Morgan said now that the palliative care service was up and running, it was now looking to strengthen ties with the community through a reference group which would have input into its ongoing development.

Mrs Morgan said a range of voluntary and non-government organisations had been invited to nominate representatives for the group which would act as a link between Kahukura and the wider community. “We are looking for two more community members on the group and would welcome expressions of interest from people who would like to contribute.”

She said the community reference group would also help decide how donated funds or bequests to the service would be used. “A number of bequests have already been made which are held separately in a dedicated account and will be used to directly benefit patients and their families.”

“While the Wairarapa DHB funds essential palliative care services such as community nursing, specialist medical consultations, social work and inpatient care, there are always extras that can make a difference to people’s quality of life,” said Mrs Morgan. “Donations and bequests to Kahukura will help make these extras such as air mattresses, lazy-boy chairs, carer relief, and extra home help, freely available to those who need them. They are in addition to a range of supports already provided by community and voluntary groups.”

Kahukura is a partnership between the Wairarapa District Health Board, the Wairarapa Community PHO and Te Omanga Hospice in Lower Hutt. It is affiliated with Palmerston North’s Arohanui Hospice for education.

The service provides a range of general and specialist community palliative care services to patients and their families, at no cost, when and where they need them. GPs and Wairarapa DHB community nurses work with patients living at home and are supported by local specialist nurses and Te Omanga Hospice medical specialists. Other professionals work with doctors and nurses to help meet the physical, mental and spiritual needs of patients and their families. They include occupational therapists, social workers, counsellors, pharmacists, clergy and Maori health workers.

Kahukura is based at 48 Lincoln Road Masterton and can be contacted on 370 8436. Expressions of interest for membership of the Kahukura Community Reference Group or enquires about donations and bequests to Kahukura can be made to Maggie Morgan on 06 370 8436 or maggie.morgan@wairarapa.dhb.org.nz


ENDS

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