Hospice preparing for future demand by training aged-care providers

Otago Community Hospice chief executive Ginny Green has seen the organisation's focus reverse in...
Otago Community Hospice chief executive Ginny Green. Photo: Peter McIntosh
An ageing population will place unprecedented demand on hospice services — a tide of patients Otago Community Hospice is preparing for now.

Hospice Week begins today, with OCH hopeful a range of activities planned for the next seven days will go a long way towards the $2.4 million it needs to fundraise from the community this year to meet budget.

Although OCH has a care facility in Northeast Valley, chief executive Ginny Green said much of the organisation’s work today was out in the community.

To that end, last year it used an Innovation Fund research grant to begin a programme aimed at training up aged-care providers on palliative care.

The scheme was about to begin its second year, and had gone from strength to strength, Ms Green said.

"It’s about managing our demand moving forward because we know by 2026, which is not that far away, that the number of patients who will die will be huge.

"We simply can’t support every person who dies, so we should be supporting those people who are caring for them."

The three-member OCH aged care clinical nurse specialist team had visited every facility in the southern region and worked with staff and management to build competence in caring for the elderly — especially those who were nearing the end of their lives.

For many in aged care, that day was not far away and had to be prepared for, Ms Green said.

"In the past, when people moved in to an aged-care facility you could expect for them to be there for a year or more," she said.

"Now they are unlikely to be there for much more than three months.

"People in aged care die, so anything we can  do to support those people to have more of a hospice approach to death will be beneficial."

While hospices maintain facilities for on-site patients, most of  their clients are in the community — three-quarters of OCH’s patients do not set foot inside the organisation’s building.

About one-third of New Zealanders who died each year  did so in residential care facilities, and caring for people at the end of their lives had to be a community effort, Ms Green said.

"Everyone is responsible for palliative care, and anyone in health  practises  palliative care in some shape or form.

"We are all going to die."

mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

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