Palliative patients have 24-hour access to specialist nurse

Palliative care teams in the Grampians regions are encouraging patients and carers to take advantage of an expanded after-hours service.

The AfterHours PalCare Project is a pilot project co-funded by the Grampians Region Palliative Care Consortium and Western Victoria Primary Health Network.

The expanded service has been available to clients of Central Grampians Palliative Care for several weeks and aims to assist patients, their families and carers who need immediate support outside of normal business hours.

WVPHN CEO Rowena Clift said her organisation, which was co-funding the project with money from the Federal Government’s After Hours Program, was delighted to be supporting the service.

“Life is often unpredictable and crises or questions about palliative care don’t always occur during business hours, so we’re really pleased that we can help provide the support that is required for patients and carers at any time,” Ms Clift said.

“While people who live in rural and remote regions are extremely resilient, especially in difficult situations, it’s vital for them to know that there is support when they need it.”

GRPCC Chair Peter Armstrong said instead of reaching out for the help they need during the night, patients worry about waking the nurse, and will wait until the morning.

“Now, overnight, on weekends and public holidays there are specialist palliative care nurses waiting for your call,” he said.

“You will be speaking to an expert who will have insight into your personal situation and they will also update your daytime clinicians of any contact.”

Mr Armstrong said most calls are from carers, such as: ‘I’ve given the medication but it doesn’t seem to be working, so what do I do now?’

The after-hours service is also available for health care professionals who can use it to better support registered patients.

Health care professionals who can use the service include staff in urgent care centres, emergency departments, residential aged care facilities providing care, or ambulance staff and paramedics while on a callout to a patient registered with palliative care services.

Ararat-based East Grampians Health Service Community Nursing manager Kate Pitcher encouraged palliative patients, carers and families to make use of the after-hours service.

“It’s available any time our team is not, so that’s Monday to Friday from 4.30pm until 7.15am the next day and for 24 hours a day on weekends and public holidays,” Ms Pitcher said.

“Central Grampians Palliative Care do a great job of pre-empting issues or questions patients and carers are likely to face, but there are often things that come up unexpectedly.”

Anyone with questions about palliative care or the after-hours service, please contact Central Grampians Palliative Care on (03) 5352 9465.