Eighteen months ago, the members of the Laurel Palliative Care Foundation (LPCF) voted unanimously to become a charity of The Hospital Research Foundation (THRF) Group. This momentous leap of faith resulted in the strengthening and improvement of palliative care services not only for Adelaide’s southern community, but also statewide.
The Laurel Palliative Care Foundation, which has provided support to the
Southern Adelaide Palliative Service (SAPS) for over 30 years, made this decision to ensure long term sustainability and enhance our capacity to support palliative care services in Southern Adelaide, but to also expand our remit to provide a statewide focus on the provision of essential palliative care services.
In South Australia palliative care is a fully integrated service comprising an interdisciplinary team operating within a hospice and in the community. The service includes a service director, palliative medicine specialists, a clinical nurse leader, advanced practice nurses, nurse practitioners and an expanded range of clinical and allied health staff with specialist qualifications and dedicated consultant roles in palliative care.
It is pleasing to note this integrated model is unique to SA, where in most other states the services are often separate and not integrated.
So how well is palliative care constructed in SA and are people getting what they need? The short answer is that it’s patchy. For example, if a person is
referred to a specialist palliative care service, they are likely to receive excellent symptom control, however, further care often depends on their diagnosis and where they live.
There is a huge variation between rural/remote and metropolitan areas as to what services people may access.
If people are referred to a specialist palliative care service, they are more likely to die, or be cared for and potentially die, in the site of their preferred place.
So, how are we addressing this and what has happened in the palliative care funding landscape since we joined THRF Group? In short, much has been achieved and it’s time to reflect on the growth of the organisation thanks to this partnership with THRF Group.
Southern Adelaide We’ve grown the organisation from a small non-profit providing minimal grants to SAPS, to one that supports a myriad of critical activities supporting palliative care in Adelaide’s south including:
• Various art, animal and music therapies
• Complementary care including massage, yoga, meditation and other therapies
Bereavement services including the Tree of Life memorial site at Centennial Park Cemetery
• Volunteer services specialised in dealing directly with patients and families/carers
• Education on death and grief literacy through the LEAF Project (Life. Education. Art. Feelings.) LifeCycles Schools Program
• Specialist equipment
• Education and scholarships
• Staff wellbeing initiatives
• Supporting patient needs
• Commissioning research projects
An allocation of $150,000 per year over three years has been made to support the above range of activities and, in addition, administration costs have been transferred to THRF Group. We’re also developing exciting plans for funding several major priorities for SAPS, including support for the Caregiver Network Facilitator Project and an ‘End of Life’ Project.
We are also proud to be expanding our support into several statewide projects including:
Palliative Care Research Program
After consultation with key stakeholders, research has emerged as an important priority. Therefore, the Palliative Care Research Program worth $2.25 million over five years has been awarded to a consortium of three SA universities, to focus on improving access to palliative care services for culturally and linguistically diverse communities, rural and remote areas and those experiencing low socio-economic status.
Compassionate Communities Program
This project hosted by the City of Tea Tree Gully will promote community engagement through memorial services, an end-of-life expo, ‘death’ cafes and more, encouraging courageous conversations around death and dying.
Palliative Care Services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
A $70,000 grant is being provided to a statewide project auspiced by Central Adelaide Palliative Care Service (CAPCS) to focus on providing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities greater access to palliative care services.
LEAF Project LifeCycles Program
We are pleased to be expanding the LEAF Project LifeCycles Program this year with a $50,000 grant and external evidence-based evaluation being conducted. An extra six schools undertook the program in 2021, and many new schools are showing interest for 2022.
Nolton Park Equine Therapy Program
The Nolton Park Miniature Horses Equine Therapy program received an additional $25,000 grant in honour of the late Donna Buss who established the program. This grant will help continue visits to Laurel Hospice and also expand the service to other facilities, including the Repatriation Aged Care and Palliative Care Division of Flinders Medical Centre.
In wrapping up we hope 2022 will be a kinder year to us all, but it will still come with its challenges. We will continue to perform a vital role under the THRF Group umbrella, in growing statewide funding of palliative care and progressing palliative care services for our Southern Adelaide community.
It must always be remembered that death and dying is not just a medical or health event, it is a person-centered human experience.
As always please accept our sincere thanks for helping us in our quest to support and complement all palliative care services across South Australia. You can feel proud knowing you are bringing better healthcare outcomes to palliative care patients and their families.