A large turnout attended the dying with dignity meeting at Bundaberg.
A large turnout attended the dying with dignity meeting at Bundaberg. Mike Knott BUN160719DWD2

Bundy focus: Searching for balance into dying at home

DYING Queenslanders have been waiting years before receiving home care packages which were needed, so that they could die in their homes.

The committee of an inquiry into aged, end-of-life, and palliative care heard this week that a Hervey Bay resident waited four years for home care, while others have waited two years.

This was mentioned by committee chairman, Thuringowa State MP Aaron Harper, during the Bundaberg hearing today, in which more than 150 local residents packed the Burnett Riverside Motel function room.

Mr Harper said the committee was halfway through its inquiry with more than 5000 submissions heard across the State, and the report would be tabled in parliament in November.

He said that his mindset as chairman of the "historical” inquiry was about guiding people to be sensitive while also listening to what they said.

Each of the three aspects of the inquiry, which were palliative care, end-of-life, and aged care, were large enough topics on their own.

"Having worked in healthcare in the last 28 years in the ambulance I've seen a lot trauma and end of life,” Mr Harper said.

"We do have a time limit unfortunately with the amount of people we have here.

"It's a balance of trying to allow everyone to get their views whether for or against.”

Acute Hospital and Community Services' executive director Debbie Carroll said in the hearing that there needed to be sustainable services, and that having home based palliative care was important in doing that.

Clients with terminal disease preferred to die at home and so the best possible level for their care was decreasing their length of palliative care at hospitals.

"We have a challenging population base with 25 per cent of the population over 65,” Ms Carroll said.

"There are challenges within the population base and a low socio-economic base.”

The service's Bundaberg palliative care unit was combined with other services including stroke recovery, in which there were between 24 to 27 beds available.

Of these beds there were up to eight available for palliative care patients.

A positive aspect for the service was that two days ago it had installed palliative care nurse navigators across its facilities, who educated staff and looked at concerns such as age, chronic disease, and mental health.

But the service had difficulty filling a position required for palliative care which was advertised for eight months.