In Home Hospice Care

My President, today I rise to speak about palliative care in our regions and of the vital work of the Mount Gambier In-Home Hospice Care Service.

Mount Gambier In-Home Hospice Care was established in 2020 with funding from the South Australian Government Palliative Care Grants program and with support from the Mount Gambier Private Hospital and the guidance of the Warrnambool and District Community Hospice.

In-Home Hospice Care is committed to a philosophy of care that recognises the end-of-life issues concerned with death, dying, palliative care, grief, and loss affect us all and is everyone’s responsibility.

Before its establishment, palliative care in Mount Gambier was only available from 9-5, Monday to Friday.

This vital new service has plugged those gaps and offers round-the-clock assistance to terminally ill patients by specially trained volunteers.

Most of those who require hospice care, when thinking about how they want to spend the final days or weeks of their life, would prefer to be cared for at home rather than in a medical setting.

In Home Hospice Care can cater to these wishes by working closely with health professionals to provide patients, and their families, with practical and emotional support.

It is a well-rounded, holistic type of care that these volunteers provide as patients face their life-limiting illnesses.

Without the initial grant supplied by the former state government and donations from groups like the Freemasons Masonic Charities Trust, the Mount Gambier and Grant Councils, WISE Employment and the Gambier Lions Club, this free service would not exist.

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending a charity afternoon tea organised by local fundraising legend Lois Bayre to support In-Home Hospice Care.

The 250-strong crowd shared in delicious scones and tea, while hearing inspiring and deeply personal stories from In Home Hospice Care chairperson Maureen Klintberg and Shyla Wills of Palliative Care South Australia.

Lois and her team raised over $10,000 for the organisation, and I thank Lois for her tireless fundraising efforts over many years.

For an organisation with no ongoing funding source, In-Home Hospice Care has achieved remarkable results in its short two years. The service’s annual costs total approximately $110,000, not considering their growth plan over the next 3 years.

21 families have received support since inception, and they have employed two part-time staff to work alongside their 33-person robust and active volunteer base.

They have identified a growing need, both within and beyond their current geographic reach, and their goal is to ensure services are available to all who need them.

To achieve this, they plan to expand their services to the Mount Gambier & Districts Health Service, residential care homes and into a wider geographic area that includes Penola, Millicent, and Naracoorte.

In-Home Hospice Care ought to be viewed as an essential part of an integrated home-based palliative care service that supports individuals, families, and caregivers outside institutional care settings.

Empowering community-level grassroots services like this will ensure high-quality and holistic care to those who need it and can also reduce Emergency Department presentations and free up hospital resources.

KPMG and Palliative Care Australia’s 2020 report found that home-based palliative care services are twice as likely to fulfil an individual’s wishes to die at home while reducing ED presentations by between 2 and 13%, resulting in less time spent in the hospital.

This means significant financial and functional savings exist for SA Health services, including reducing the burden on our ambulance system and wider health workforce.

For these salient reasons, I echo the calls of our Shadow Minister for Regional Health, Penny Pratt, and my colleague, the Hon. Nicola Centofanti, who have been calling for the Health Minister to review his decision not to fund the service going forward.

The steady hands of Chairperson Maureen Klintberg and Hospice Manager Sandi Elliot have ensured they can utilise the organisation’s reserve funds until the end of May.

And thanks to a lifesaving Hospital Research Foundation grant and with Community donations are increasing the Mount Gambier In-Home Hospice Care service can continue, but only until December 2023.

Mr President next week is National Palliative Care Week, a chance for us all to celebrate and acknowledge the need for quality palliative care services in our communities.

In-Home Hospice Care has proven itself as a trusted and essential free service for those who wish to live and die well in the South East.

This model needs ongoing funding certainty, and I add my voice to the calls from South East community and from our side of the Chambers for the State Government to provide Mount Gambier In-Home Hospice Care with the support it so desperately needs.

Maureen, Sandi and the team of dedicated staff and volunteers are owed a debt of gratitude for their tireless advocacy and ongoing commitment to improving end-of-life care for the South East community.