Sep 27
Telehealth Supports Palliative Care Patients

Palliative care patients in western NSW are being supported at home and at their local facility using Telehealth to connect with specialist medical and nursing staff.

The use of Telehealth is part of Western NSW Local Health District’s (WNSWLHD) focus on using cutting edge technology to provide services to make it easier for people to get the health care they need in their own community.

Mudgee and Rylstone patients will be the first in the Health District to benefit from this innovative technology, with the project led by Palliative Care Clinical Nurse Consultant based in Dubbo, Alison Dawes.

Alison said the main aim of the project is to support palliative care patients in their local communities.

“Telehealth will allow patients to be seen by specialist teams often in their own home or at their local hospital. This will make it much easier for General Practices, patients and their carers and families to access expert clinical advice,” Ms Dawes said.

Mudgee and Rylstone Community Health Nurses Sonia Christie and Jennifer Bryant are among the first to use Telehealth to support palliative care patients in WNSWLHD.

“We are expecting to see improvement in patient management at home, including better pain and symptom management and less time in hospital,” Ms Christie and Ms Bryant said.

Flexible funding for palliative care from the NSW Ministry of Health has been provided to Western NSW Local Health District to purchase infrastructure that will improve access and timeliness of palliative care support. This will enable sites that have specialist palliative care health care professionals to access portable Telehealth units.

Lourdes Hospital in Dubbo, Bathurst Daffodil Cottage, Cancer Services at Orange Hospital, Lachlan Health Service (Parkes and Forbes) and Dubbo Health Service as well as five other pool units throughout the District have all benefitted from this infrastructure.

WNSWLHD also purchased an additional 16 laptop tablets that will enable more flexible palliative care support options, which have been distributed to Primary and Community Health Nurses across the region.

Chief Executive of Western NSW Local Health District, Scott McLachlan said Telehealth is a new and innovative way to deliver health services.

“It is very comforting to see Telehealth technology being used to support palliative care patients in our District,” Mr McLachlan said.

“We know that palliative care patients from rural communities often have to travel to see specialists and this is often not practical for palliative care patients. This can cause great hardship to patients and families and can lead to increased pain and discomfort.”

“We have a team of senior doctors and nurses looking at innovative ways to apply technology in the delivery of health services. Palliative care is one area where we can use Telehealth to make it easier for people to access health care as close to home as possible.”

Mr McLachlan said it’s important that people understand that the provision of health services through technology is not about replacing face-to-face contact between staff and patients, but about increasing the equity and access to services right across the area.

“Telehealth is about making the most of 21st century technology to go beyond what we would have thought was possible twenty, or even ten years ago,” he said.

“As we use the technology, we are finding that it is really improving health care through improved communication between patients, General Practice, the specialists based in larger communities and our local teams. This results in a true team approach to the delivery of care to patients, no matter where they live.”

“The health of our communities in rural and remote western NSW can only benefit from having access to this world-class technology and we are committed to using Telehealth to improve health outcomes.”

Media enquiries: Brendan Williams, Media Manager, Western NSW Local Health District via brendan.williams@health.nsw.gov.au