Palliative Care was identified as a priority for the Advocate in her 2018/19 Statement of Intent. In the following 12 months her office undertook significant research and community engagement that resulted in a report to the Minister for Health, in September 2019, outlining 12 recommendations to achieve Victoria’s best end of life experience for people in Latrobe.
In May 2020 the Advocate provided a Progress Report to the Minister and Latrobe communities that highlighted the changes that have been implemented as a result of her recommendations.
Within less than a year, and amongst the disruption of the global coronavirus pandemic, the Victorian Government and local health services remain committed to addressing the concerns of Latrobe communities and responding to recommendations from the Latrobe Health Advocate about end of life palliative care services.
The Advocate is reassured by the goodwill of local services and can see that some changes have occurred within a short timeframe. These include;
- the independent review of the model of care at Latrobe Community Health Service,
- the implementation of a universal software system to ensure shared access to patient records, and
- the commitment from Latrobe Regional Hospital to undertake minor capital works to provide patients with access to gardens and family friendly areas.
The recommendation for a dedicated hospice in Latrobe is yet to be formally considered and local communities need to be engaged in this process. Further work needs to be done in relation to volunteer coordination and bereavement supports.
The Advocate would like to acknowledge the Department of Health and Human Services and local health services who have recognised the importance of responding to the aspirations of Latrobe communities and openly shared the successes and challenges they have experienced.
Right now, health services in Latrobe, Victoria and the rest of the world are experiencing significant disruption as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. The impact of the pandemic and response of governments and services has demonstrated that large scale change is possible.
The Advocate is encouraging all stakeholders to consider the positive changes that have occurred within the health system and how they might relate to her recommendations about palliative care services in Latrobe.