Hospice to up aged-care palliative support

Otago Community Hospice is boosting the support it gives the provision of palliative support in residential aged care.

However, the hospice is struggling to fund the provision of that and its other services and faces recording a substantial deficit this year.

"Next year, our operating turnover is going to be half a million more, with no increase in our government funding," chief executive Ginny Green said.

"We are going to be trying to raise $3.3million from this community, which is just gobsmacking."

The hospice was not unique in its financial plight and many other health organisations which relied on community donations were struggling to make ends meet, Ms Green said.

"We don’t know how long we can draw on our reserves and we are very reluctant to go cap in hand to the community knowing full well that every other charitable organisation like ours is doing the same thing. The community will soon get fatigued."

Otago Community Hospice residential aged-care palliative support service team members (from left)...
Otago Community Hospice residential aged-care palliative support service team members (from left) Miho Ishikawa, Helena Lamb, Sarah Wilson and Sally Fleming. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
The hospice secured support from an innovation fund five years ago to establish its residential aged-care support service team, with just over two full-time-equivalent staff.

Recognising a need for greater help in this area, this year the hospice had increased resources and also established a fellowship funded by the Gordon Allen Foundation Trust to employ a nurse specifically to work on palliative care in residential aged care.

As well as working with the established team of nurses, the fellow would also study for their diploma in palliative care, Ms Green said.

Residential aged-care facilities have recently spoken out about the difficulties of maintaining their registered nursing staff, a situation which is made more difficult because district health board-employed nurses are better paid.

Ms Green said the hospice was paying equivalent rates to the DHB, although it had not received extra funding to do so.

"Aged care simply can’t compete with hospitals, salary-wise, so what we are trying to do is put some very specialised resources in there to help them to do as much as they possibly can.

"It will support our patient base who are in aged care, but it will also potentially prevent some aged-care residents having to come in to our care."

 - This week, May 15-22, is Hospice Awareness Week.

mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

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