Palliative care investment and reform
In addition to its ongoing investment in Queensland’s palliative care system, the Queensland Government has committed additional funding of $171 million from 2021-22 to 2025-26 to lead reforms to palliative care. This significant additional investment will fund critical initiatives to expand and strengthen palliative care services for Queenslanders to ensure it remains high-quality, accessible and enables people to exercise genuine choice at end of life, allowing them to die with dignity.
The new funding will be implemented using a stepwise investment approach, with investment gradually increasing over the five years to demonstrate an immediate, but pragmatic commencement of service delivery. By 2025-26, the total approximate spend on palliative care is expected to be close to $250 million each year. For an overview of the funding package, please see here.
The package of work, collectively called the Palliative Care Reform Program, includes:
- developing and implementing a new Palliative and End-of-Life Care Strategy;
- investing in community-based services to improve and promote choice for care at end of life through increased home-based and after-hours care, focusing on regional, rural and remote service provision outside of South East Queensland;
- growing and investing in Queensland’s specialist palliative care workforce and developing a new workforce plan;
- digital and telehealth solutions for consumers;
- supporting practitioners; and
- delivering public education and advocacy activities.
The Queensland Government is also committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of First Nations people and their families and will invest more than $10 million over the next four years for targeted First Nations community-based palliative care initiatives.
This initiative will deliver new culturally and clinically appropriate care to support First Nations people and their loved ones during their end-of-life journey. It will be co-designed with the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council, and in consultation with First Nations stakeholders and consumers.
What we are doing
The Queensland Government has already started to implement reform to improve palliative care services for Queenslanders.
Delivering new community-based services
In November 2021 Queensland Health released an Invitation to Offer seeking proposals from non-government service providers to deliver community-based palliative care services in regional, rural and remote areas of Queensland from 1 October 2022. The tender closed on 27 January 2022.
In May 2022 it was announced that Blue Care was successful in the tender, and will deliver holistic community-based palliative care services across nine Hospital and Health Service areas in the State until mid-2027.
Blue Care will provide home care support, bereavement and support services, telehealth services, plus on-call and 24/7 nursing care.
Funding proven, effective palliative care services
Funding has been provided to ensure the continuation of key palliative care services and initiatives such as the:
- Paediatric Palliative Care Outreach Collaborative to support the delivery of services for children in regional and remote areas
- Medical Aids Subsidy Scheme – Palliative Care Equipment Program to provide assistive technology to support the delivery of palliative care at home
- Specialist Palliative Rural Telehealth Service (SPaRTa) to support the delivery of palliative care services in regional, rural and remote areas of Queensland.
Developing a new Palliative and End-of-Life Care Strategy and Workforce Plan
In late 2021, Queensland Health undertook consultation and engagement to support the development of a new Palliative and End-of-Life Care Strategy and Workforce Plan. Feedback was sought on the principles, goals and action areas that will underpin the Strategy.
The Strategy, which is anticipated for release in late 2022, will guide local service delivery to ensure all Queenslanders can access high quality palliative care and achieve their goals for care at the end-of-life. The accompanying Workforce Plan will support additional investment in Queensland's specialist palliative care workforce.
Undertaking the strategic planning work to inform the new Strategy and Workforce Plan is an essential part of making sure that the new funding is allocated to areas with the greatest need.
Supporting the Queensland Health specialist palliative care workforce
Queensland Health is investing in initiatives to increase the palliative care workforce, which will be delivered under the new Workforce Plan. An increase in Queensland Health’s front line specialist palliative care workforce will deliver additional palliative care services as well as providing additional support for other clinicians to deliver palliative care services in their local community.
Current investment, programs and initiatives
In Queensland, palliative care services are delivered in a range of settings, including public and private hospitals, hospices, residential aged care facilities, and home-based care. In 2020-21, Hospital and Health Services spent approximately $153 million on palliative care services.
In addition, the Queensland Government provides funding to:
- Non-government organisations for the delivery of palliative care services, which includes clinical palliative care services as well as training, information, and awareness and advocacy.
- Palliative Care Queensland’s Ambulance Wish Program, which supports people with life-limiting conditions to fulfil their final wish, while promoting community awareness of the value of palliative care.
During 2019-20 and 2020-21 new funding was allocated for the delivery of palliative care services in community-based settings, with a focus on areas outside of South East Queensland, to assist people with a life-limiting illness to be cared for, and die, in their place of choice.
This new funding over the last two years has helped introduce:
- a new Paediatric Palliative Care Outreach Collaborative for new regional and remote services for children;
- assistive technology through an extension of the Medical Aids Subsidy Scheme;
- the establishment of services to support practitioners providing palliative care; and
- specialist telehealth services to provide comprehensive multidisciplinary tele-video care to patients in rural and remote Queensland.
The Queensland Government also supports the palliative care needs of people living in residential aged care facilities through its participation in the Comprehensive Palliative Care in Aged Care measure by implementing the Specialist Palliative Care in Aged Care Project.
Other Queensland Health initiatives that aim to raise awareness about the importance of discussing and planning for care at the end of life include the development of care at the end of life resources and Advance Care Planning support through the Office of Advance Care Planning.
All of these programs and initiatives support people to receive the compassionate care they need at the end stages of life – whether in a hospital, a hospice, community or home settings, or in residential aged care facilities.