Palliative Care at Home program secures funding

Jodhe Mattner’s (right) with Bendigo Health staff looking at photos of her late father, Lindsay. Jodhe Mattner’s (right) father passed away from oesophageal cancer earlier this month. She's pictured with Bendigo Health staff looking at photos of her late father, Lindsay.
The Palliative Care at Home program gives certain patients a choice of their preferred place of care and death.

Bendigo Health’s Palliative Care at Home program has secured permanent funding, meaning more Central Victorians will be able to choose their preferred place of death.

The State Government will provide $250,000 annually for the program as part of its broader commitment to the state’s regional and rural palliative care services.

The funding comes after Bendigo Health ran a pilot Palliative Care at Home program for 18 months, during which time 110 people accessed the service.

One of those people was Jodhe Mattner’s father, who was diagnosed with stage four oesophageal cancer and passed away earlier this month.

“It was fabulous for us. It gave us an option that we didn’t realise existed and we had beautiful people that became part of our family come in to the home and teach us how to care for our father,” Jodhe said.

 “He was a very fit, engaged man in the community and for him, he really wanted to be at home and amongst his family.

“We’re so thrilled that this (Palliative Care at Home program) is going to be an option for people in the community and other people can get to experience what it’s like to die amongst your children and loves ones in a home setting.

Announcing the funding, Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said the program – the only one of its kind in regional Victoria – supports patients dying in their place of choice with dignity through provision of nursing, physician support, allied health and personal care.

“We know most people would wish to spend their final moments at home surrounded by loved ones. Patients and families who are going through a traumatic experience deserve to have this comfort,” she said.

“The program allows patients with complex needs to leave hospital for their final weeks, but also prevents unnecessary readmission.”

Bendigo Health manager of Integrated Palliative Care Services, Alison Smith said demand for the program had doubled in the first six month of the pilot and she expected it to grow further.

She said ninety percent of the patients during the trial program died in their preferred place of care or death with support from specialist palliative care professionals.

“Our evidence shows people who receive care in their own homes need less medication and experience less stress,” she said.

“The program is currently available to certain patients living within a 30 kilometre radius of Bendigo, but the long-term aim is to extend the boundary to Greater Bendigo, and throughout the Southern Loddon Mallee region.”

The Palliative Care at Home program, which works with existing community services including GPs, can also be accessed by staff and patients within residential aged care facilities.