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New palliative care service improves quality of life

Julie-Ann Hendry, Diane Burrows and Gail Knack
Community Palliative Care Team Leader Julie-Ann Hendry, patient Diane Burrows and Clinical Nurse Gail Knack.

Patients living with a life-limiting illness are being offered telehealth consultations to improve quality patient care.

The contemporary approach by the Community Palliative Care Team increases access to consultants, reduces travel and inconvenience for patients, carers and families and improves patient satisfaction.

The team, which currently actively cares for about 400 patients living in the community, has delivered almost 100 consultations via telehealth since the model of care was introduced in March this year.

Director of Palliative Care Andrew Broadbent said as people neared the end of their lives it was more important to deliver patient-centre health care services.

“Often our role in specialist palliative care is to promote quality of life and to assist in the management of complex symptoms to support patients who are living with a life-limiting illness, and their families,” Dr Broadbent said.
“We have found the telehealth model to be successful in improving the efficiencies of our home visit service while at the same time providing our clients with timely access to specialist palliative care consultants.

“Telehealth also delivers efficiencies which allow us to raise the standard of care to our patients by including GPs in a patient’s care, keeping the patient at home longer and avoiding admissions to emergency department.”
A Clinical Nurse or Clinical Nurse Consultant visits the patient at home with an iPad and calls in to the medical consultant desktop at either Robina Hospital or Gold Coast University Hospital via the telehealth interactive video-conferencing system.

Diane Burrows is living with metastatic colorectal cancer and was referred to the Community Palliative Care Team about five months ago.

She was an inpatient at Robina Hospital before returning home and receiving care from Clinical Nurse Gail Knack who organised a telehealth session with Dr Broadbent to address pain management and other symptoms.

“I get the history from the patient to find out what the issues are, we then dial in to the consultant and I give a brief overview of the patient’s history and then it is a consultation exactly as if the patient was sitting in front of the doctor.

“Diane has found it quite helpful being able to talk directly to the doctor,” Ms Knack said.

Gold Coast Health also strives to deliver telehealth services across a number of areas such as diabetes clinics, renal clinics and pain management as part of daily operations.

Last updated 12 Jul 2017