Here we are, days away from Christmas and soon to farewell 2016. Phew! I know many will be pleased to put it to bed. A year that’s seen a surge in admissions, a frenzied fundraising effort and a swathe of challenges for volunteers and staff, testing our mettle. As they say “we can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust our sails”. We all dug in deeper, stayed firm to our mission of compassionate care to all and provided love and support to each other when needed. It’s also been a year with so many wonderful stories – from the magic of art therapy helping unpack fear, anger and grief to the many daily kindnesses we can extend to our patients and the wider community.
Little Haven has a proud history of community based palliative care – one of the first services in Qld, and this year we’ve continued to expand to meet the needs of our community and simply CARE for all who needed us. 220 + Palliative patients and countless others who’ve known the gentle hands of Little Haven in 2016. I was grateful for the opportunity to present Little Haven’s model of care and highlight how wonderful a service can be when the community engages fully with care for the dying at the recent Palliative Care Qld State Conference. We really are a unique and outstanding service in the QHealth climate.
Recently I met with the QHealth Director of Funding and the Acting Director of Policy who openly acknowledged the respect they have for our (and like minded NGO’s) service provision and model of care. However it was extremely disappointing to hear that “Increasing funding for community Palliative Care is not on the QHealth agenda” at present. “Is freeing up hospital beds also not on their agenda?” Currently Little Haven is caring for 72 palliative patients in the community at an approximate cost to QHealth of $700 / day (Total – not per patient). Should just one of these patients not have access to community based palliative support and end up in hospital the cost would be upwards of $1600 / day.
The findings of the Productivity Commission’s Human Services Review released last week prioritised end of life care as one of the six areas where outcomes could be improved both for people who use human services, and the community as a whole. The report identifies more can be done to ensure patients at the end of their life receive the right care, in the right place, and at the right time. The timing is uncanny given these were the views I expressed both at the conference and in my meeting with QHealth, and these findings will strengthen our case as the committee continues our push for improved Govt funding in the new year. You can see the full report here http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/current/human-services/identifying-reform/report
For most of us Christmas is a time full of festive cheer, but it can be a lonely time for many people, especially the grieving, sick or elderly. Just think what a difference we could make if each of us stopped and took time to check on the well being of our neighbour, extend love and provide support to the vulnerable. Then we will really welcome the spirit of Christmas into our hearts.
On behalf of the committee, staff and volunteers I wish you all the peace and joy of the season, and look forward to seeing you all back here in 2017.