Darling Downs Health is raising awareness and understanding of the role palliative care plays in a hospital and community setting during National Palliative Care Week.
National Palliative Care Week is held annually from 24 to 30 May, and the theme this year is ‘Palliative Care…It’s more than you think!’
Darling Downs Health palliative medicine specialist Dr Eva Harizaj said there were common misconceptions about palliative care, with people often thinking it was only for patients with cancer, and only at the very final stage of life.
“The focus of our service is to improve the lives of people faced with life-limiting illness, making them as comfortable as we can, and supporting their families,” Dr Harizaj said.
“Our palliative care service can be accessed by anyone with a life limiting illness, including chronic disease such as kidney, liver, lung and heart failure, dementia and other neurological illnesses.
“We want our communities to know what palliative care is, and how it can help, because there is a lot more to it than what people may think.”
Dr Harazai said the Toowoomba Hospital palliative care team includes a physician, a registrar, a junior doctor, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, social workers and a dietician.
“It’s a multidisciplinary team, allowing us to provide a consult service to inpatients, and also support the various clinical teams to provide appropriate care,” Dr Harazai said.
“We also have an outpatient service where we see patients in clinic to review and monitor their symptoms, provide information around advance care planning and organise equipment to assist them to remain at home.
“As people approach the end of life, they may choose to be at home rather than in hospital and providing support for them to make this possible is one of our most important functions.
“Our team does regular reviews to assess the patient’s changings needs, liaises with their GP regarding symptom and medication management, and organises equipment to help them remain at home.”
The service is accessible by a referral from a General Practitioner or specialist.