Dying wish at Orange hospital: working towards keeping patients at home at the end

FINDING OUT: Western Local Health District palliative care nurse consultant James Daley explains to Bronwyn Walker the importance of awareness of palliative care options. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0528sgpall2

FINDING OUT: Western Local Health District palliative care nurse consultant James Daley explains to Bronwyn Walker the importance of awareness of palliative care options. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0528sgpall2

THE majority of people palliatively treated at the end of their life die in a hospital, with only 20 per cent passing away at home.

Western NSW Local Health District palliative care nurse consultant James Daley said health service staff were working to increase the number of people who had the support and care to stay at home until they died.

“It is all a matter of resources and we do have dedicated staff who do their absolute best for people being palliatively treated and their families,” he said.

During Palliative Care Week Mr Daley says the hospital is endeavouring to provide as much information as possible to ease the pressure on families when a loved one dies.

He says a trial being undertaken in Orange and Bathurst, providing non-medical palliative care workers in the home for the last 48-hours of a person’s life, has benefited 10 families in this city since the start of the year.

“We see this as an important step forward,” he said.

Mr Daley said no family should feel under pressure to take their loved one home at the end of their life if they could not cope.

“We do have a very good support system of general practitioners, community nurses and other health professionals working together to make that happen, but sometimes it is just not possible,” he said.

“In the majority of cases palliative care is a process that doesn’t happen in a couple of days, sometimes a patient is unwell for years, so there is time to put a plan in place.

However, Mr Daley says at Orange hospital sometimes people have to die in an environment where there are other patients in the room.

“If there is a private room available of course our staff make every effort to move a patient, but sometimes it is a juggling act,” he said.

“While we can’t guarantee that a patient will die in private, what we can guarantee is that they will get the best of care by caring and compassionate staff.”

Mr Daley said family members who were concerned about medicating loved ones at home, particularly with pain-relieving drugs, could rest assured they would be well educated by nurses and practitioners.

“In the 20 years I have been a palliative care nurse I have never worked with a family who have delivered a lethal dose,” he said.

To find out more about support and services go to www.palliativecare.org.au.

l Late last year Orange hospital closed down a dedicated palliative care ward and re-assigned staff to other areas of the hospital.

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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