The WA Country Health Service (WACHS) TelePalliative Care in the Home service aims to provide care and support, via telehealth, for patients who wish to die at home during the terminal stage of life. Initially successfully established and trialled in the Wheatbelt region, the service is now been delivered in a number of WACHS regions.
Since commencement in 2016, the service has trialled a number of different approaches to providing palliative care support via telehealth. In the initial phase of the Wheatbelt service, video conferencing technology was downloaded onto patients own ICT devices; however evaluation highlighted access to pre-existing technology within the home as a barrier preventing further patients accessing the service. As such, a number of regions now provide loan devices, allowing a greater number of patients access to the TelePalliative care service.
Four regions of WA are now delivering the TelePalliative Care in the home service. To date, a total of 45 of patients have accessed the service, with 81 occasions of service delivered. Patient satisfaction with the service has been measured in the Wheatbelt region, indicating that 66% of patients were very satisfied with the service (n=27). Clinicians delivering the service have highlighted the value of providing in home support to patients, many of whom wouldn’t have been able to leave the home due to poor health.
The TelePalliative care service provides improved equity of access and quality of service for terminally ill patients living in country WA. Additionally, provision of a TelePalliative service can reduce the number of patients referred into, or requiring emergency transport to a regional or metropolitan health service. The service will continue to be rolled out across WA, with additional consideration given to establishing a 24 hour TelePalliative service, enabling regions to comply with the WA Health Clinical Services Framework 2014-2024.