Call for palliative care services continue

IN MEMORY: Jill Scott says she experienced positive care for her husband Ray Scott during his final days.

Charlotte Varcoe

SUPPORT for a palliative care boost in the former Mount Gambier Private Hospital ward continues to swell with a prominent Mount Gambier resident’s stance earning the backing of the district’s two councils.

Jill Scott has written to state and local government leaders calling for two rooms within the ex-private ward at Mount Gambier and District to be converted into specialised palliative care spaces for private and public patients.

Proponents of palliative care have called for an increase in the region’s services to meet any potential future demand, noting the Limestone Coast Coast Palliative Care Services Team recorded 203 referrals for the service in 2020, compared to 67 in 2010.

Speaking with The Border Watch, Ms Scott said she was influenced to pen the letter following her late husband Ray’s time in palliative care within the Mount Gambier Private Hospital Inc last year at the age of 70, following a long battle with cancer.

“My husband Ray was in a private room in the private hospital section during his last moments and I do believe some of those rooms should be transformed into a specific room for all patients who need palliative care,” Ms Scott said.

“During Ray’s time in the hospital I could not fault the hospital nor the staff because we received fantastic care during his final days, however the rooms could have really used a bit more, which is what we are hoping could happen.”

Ms Scott said the palliative care specific rooms would benefit the community and should only be available to those who are within their final weeks or days.

“Although there are people who wish to pass away at home, there are others like myself and Ray who wish to pass away in hospital because Ray’s mother passed away in our home and he could not walk into the room for some years afterwards,” she said.

“We need to ensure there are palliative care rooms available for public and private patients whose family may not be able to cope with the amount of care needed and although the beds are in what was previously the private ward, they should be accessible to everyone because everyone has the right to die with dignity and in private.

“Allowing Ray to pass in a private room really brought our family a peace of mind and he felt secure during his care and I want that to be available for everyone within the community.”

Limestone Coast Local Health Network governing board chair Grant King said palliative care services had always been available at Mount Gambier hospital to both public and private patients, with four rooms in the facility’s medical ward built with palliative care needs in mind.

“They are single rooms with appropriate amenities, staffed and supported by a multidisciplinary specialist palliative care team,” Mr King said.

“Across the entire Mount Gambier hospital site, palliative care will continue to be delivered in single rooms with a level of care, respect and understanding that those at end-of-life stage and their families should expect.”

Responding to Ms Scott’s letter, Grant District Council Mayor Richard Sage voiced council’s support for any improvement to services.

“I have witnessed quite a few relatives and friends in need of palliative care and have gone through the last few hours of their life and it is nice to have that area where friends and family are able to say goodbye,” Mr Sage said.

“Having rooms available to everyone within the community is a respectful way of doing it and the beauty of having a space with other facilities, a beautiful garden and a nice view is one where people can come together and see the passing of a loved one and know they have done the most they could.”

Mount Gambier Mayor Lynette Martin echoed Mr Sage’s sentiments and said she would also provide a letter of support to improve spaces and facilities for palliative care at the hospital.

Ms Martin said the quality of healthcare and facilities for the residents of Mount Gambier and the Limestone Coast, including end of life care, was very important and that she understood the level of service provided to patients at the hospital was exceptional.

Mr King said the Limestone Coast Local Health Network would continue to assess the care needs of the community through whole of system planning.

“With increased referrals for palliative care over the last 10 years, we will adjust to meet the changing needs, to ensure that palliative care is delivered in an appropriate setting and which includes a family-centred model of care.”