Making quality count in last years of life

A new pilot program to support patients with chronic conditions in the last 1,000 days of their life aims to improve the health and wellbeing of some of our most vulnerable older South Australians while at the same time reducing hospital, emergency department and residential aged care admissions.

In partnership with the Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS), Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade today announced the new Integrum SA program – a community-based, integrated medical and social care service which will operate as an alternative to hospital and residential aged care.

“South Australia faces growing demand for end-of-life care services. The State’s population is relatively older than the national average and the proportion of older persons is only projected to increase,” Minister Wade said.

“We want to ensure that every South Australian has access to high quality care to support them to live – and die – well. No matter who they are, where they live, or what health issues they are dealing with.

“Too often, we hear of people who are transferred between hospitals, specialists, primary care and aged care providers, receiving fragmented care and a confusing overall experience.

“This program will focus on those who spend a lot of time in hospital towards the end of their life and provide them more support to stay at home and receive appropriate care.

“This is yet another initiative that will improve South Australia’s health services, ease pressure on our emergency departments, reduce hospital presentations and deliver care closer to home.”

SA Health recently signed an agreement with the Silver Chain Group, parent company of South Australia’s RDNS, which will be the provider of the end-of-life program.

Integrum SA will be based at the Repat Health Precinct within the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network (SALHN).

It’s expected that 200 to 300 participants will be involved during the 18-month trial, which is expected to start by the end of the year.

Initially focussed on SALHN, participants will be limited to adults within 25 minutes’ drive from the Repat who have had two or more unplanned hospital admissions in the past 12 months, have two or more chronic diseases, and are eligible for either the RDNS Home Care Package or are accessing the Adults with Chronic Conditions program being delivered by the RDNS.

As the trial progresses, the program will start taking referrals from other metropolitan Local Health Networks.

Director of Integrum SA, Rebecca Singh, said the aim of the program is to improve the health and wellbeing of all patients involved, while giving them the confidence to self-manage their chronic disease and feel in control of their care journey.

“It’s hoped the program will result in fewer unplanned hospital admissions and improved quality of life for patients,” Ms Singh said.

“Integrum will play an important role in working with South Australia’s health services to deliver high-level care in the community.

“This eases the burden on hospitals and health services, allowing patients to spend more time at home with their families.”

The pilot program is an initiative of new SA Health agency, Wellbeing SA, and will provide multi-disciplinary in-home services and community-based support programs to meet patient needs.

A single care coordinator and doctor will be assigned to each case and work together with the patient, their GP and their carer to ensure accountability for patient outcomes.

It will also trial the use of innovative technologies as service model enablers to expand the capacity for consumer access to care, such as using Enhanced Medical Mixed Reality (EMMR) and three-dimensional technologies to enable patients to experience real-time remote interaction with health professionals in their own home.

The pilot is in addition to the Marshall Liberal Government’s $16 million investment over four years for increased palliative care support and $33.3 million annual investment in palliative care.

An expert working group is managing the development of a 24/7 community outreach palliative care service.

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