31 August 2022
Palliative care teams in the Wimmera and 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 service has been available for several months and was established to assist patients and carers who needed immediate attention outside of 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 Project Lead Diane Nimmo said in preparing the program, the Wimmera Palliative Care team did a great job in pre-empting any issues or questions patients and carers were likely to face but there were always going to be things that come up unexpectedly.
“These might be questions around medication, access to up-to-date client information for attending clinicians, or the need for reassurance or emotional support,” Ms Nimmo said.
“Patients often worry about waking the nurse on-call up if they ring during the night and instead of getting the help they need, will wait until the morning. But overnight and on weekends there are specialist palliative nurses on duty who are waiting to pick up the phone to assist you,” she said.
“The service is not just about symptom management, you’re speaking to an expert who will have insight into your personal situation and who can listen, provide support and information.
“They will also update your daytime clinicians of any contact.”
Ms Nimmo said most of the calls were made by carers and a lot of them were medication queries, 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. The following health care professionals can use it: 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.
Horsham-based Grampians Health Palliative Care manager Carmel O’Kane encouraged palliative patients, carers and families to makes use of the after-hours service.