Palliative care is the care of people who are dying from active, progressive diseases or other conditions that are not responsive to curative treatment. Palliative care embraces the physical, social, emotional and spiritual elements of wellbeing–tinana, whanau, hinengaro and wairua – and enhances a person’s quality of life while they are dying. Palliative care also supports the bereaved family/whanau.
This palliative care strategy has been developed because:
- evidence shows that 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 a range of issues need to be addressed.
The aim of the strategy is to set in place a systematic and informed approach to the provision and funding of palliative care services through the implementation of the following vision:
All people who are dying and their family/whanau who could benefit from palliative care have timely access to quality palliative care services that are culturally appropriate and are provided in a co-ordinated way.
In order to implement this vision there is a fundamental need to raise the profile of palliative care among communities and health and disability providers, to increase the awareness of palliative care services among communities, and to develop a ‘palliative care culture ’. Underpinning this is the development of:
- a set of essential services for dying people who could benefit from palliative care.These services would include assessment (initial and ongoing), care co-ordination, clinical care and support care
- a flexible service configuration that builds on existing services, takes account of the future direction for primary care, and is co-ordinated to ensure that dying people have access to all essential services via two inter-linked levels of palliative care services that include:
- local palliative care services provided from each District Health Board area, which provide access to the essential services for people who are dying
- specialist palliative care services in each region, particularly in Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. These providers would have particular responsibility for providing the specialist palliative care advice for the region, maintaining linkages with the tertiary hospitals and undertaking regional and national quality improvement and educational activities.
Nine strategies have been developed which will be implemented over a 5 –10-year period in order of priority. The first priorities will be to ensure that essential services are available for all dying people and that at least one local palliative care service is available in each District Health Board. Additional funding has enabled the implementation of these strategies to be started.
The other strategies will be implemented in line with other government priorities outlined in the New Zealand Health Strategy.