St Vincent’s Hospital Palliative Care Unit provides a high-quality multidisciplinary service for those living with a life-limiting illness in our Far North Coast Community.
The dedicated nine-bed Palliative Care Unit provides in-patient care for public and private patients and support for their families and carers. The Unit differs from the community service offered by Lismore Base Hospital which is best suited for acute presentations.
The multidisciplinary Palliative Care Team at St Vincent’s works closely with GPs to provide quality care, compassion and a range of services. The team, including specialised palliative care nurses, supports the physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs of patients living with a life-limiting or terminal illness.
Patient care is holistic and includes support for mobility and personal care needs and also provides access to speech therapists, dieticians and social work services. Pain control, symptom management and pastoral care are key services provided by the Unit and patients can be referred at any stage of their illness.
GPs can get involved in their patient’s care as much or as little as they like.
In concert with the Palliative Care Unit, local GPs can provide seamless, end-of-life continuity of care for their patients or hand over the care to the Unit.
“Whilst it is accepted that palliative care is a subspecialty, it lends itself to continued GP involvement, particularly for those GPs who believe in the importance of caring for their patients right to the end,” said St Vincent’s Hospital Medical Officer, Michael Lambrou.
“Our Palliative Care Unit works with GPs in a way that best suits them and their patients. It’s good for patients to see a friendly face and reassuring to know their GP is still on-hand,” said Dr Lambrou.
GPs struggling to manage their patient’s symptoms at home can access the Unit for support with a view to helping the patient return home. And when families or patients are not coping with end-of-life care at home, the Unit is on hand to support these needs too.
“Where possible we aim to fulfil families and patients’ wishes and to be as flexible as we can,” Dr Lambrou added.
GP admitting rights
So that admissions to the Palliative Care Unit are better streamlined, Dr Lambrou encourages local GPs to apply for admitting rights to St Vincent’s.
“It’s surprisingly simple for GPs to apply for admitting rights and it certainly makes life easier for GPs and their patients who need to come into the Palliative Care Unit. As a primary care physician, if you have admitting rights, you can admit patients with some paperwork and a quick phone call,” he said.
To access the Palliative Care Service GPs should phone the St Vincent’s Hospital Medical Officer on 0419 449 183. After hours and weekend admissions are accepted.
“In the end our approach is to aim to give the best possible quality of life for those living with a life-limiting illness,” said Dr Lambrou.
“GPs can call me at any time to see if we can help make their patient’s journey a little easier.”