Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 12 November 2009) . . Page.. 4968 ..
MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Bresnan for her question. I should perhaps declare that one of those 15 full-time palliative care nurses was my wife who was, for 15 years, a specialist palliative care provider. I have some understanding, I must say not through my brief—and I presume there is a brief here for the Minister for Health in relation to this issue—and I have some anecdotal understanding or knowledge of the particular issue.
There was a change in process or procedure. The model of palliative care delivery changed. It changed from full-time providers. I do indicate that one of those was my wife. I declare something of a personal interest in this, to be full and open to the Assembly in relation to that. The system changed. A new model of service delivery for palliative care was determined. The system now is more expansive; it is more holistic; and it embraces palliative care consultants providing assistance and guidance and specialist guidance to community nurses, aged care providers and GPs, to ensure that palliative care is provided to the broader community holistically and as a specialist service as broadly as possible.
Palliative care is a relatively new speciality. It has only been a speciality offered by health systems for the last 30 or so years. As our understanding as a community and, indeed, as medical providers has grown and changed, we have changed the method or model of delivery of that particular service within our community. The decision has been taken by our health department, officials and, indeed, in consultation with the Little Company of Mary as a pre-eminent provider of hospice palliative care services within the hospice setting that, in the delivery of outreach services or home-based services, a new model would be supported within the ACT.
I do not know, I regret, some of those internal health decision-making processes—who instigated it, who led it and who drove the change from the full-time palliative care specialist provider to a model of consultant-based model that we now see. But there have been some tremendous advantages for the community as a result of the new method or methodology.
I am sure my mother-in-law would forgive me—she died four weeks ago in a nursing home—if I refer to the fact that for the last week of her life she received palliative care services delivered through an outreach service without the need for the daily attendance of highly specialised, specialist palliative care nurse. She received all of the palliation that she required before her death—a good death, a death of dignity—as a result of the consultant-driven model that now prevails throughout the whole of the ACT.
It is an important question. There is no more important question, I think, of the government in a policy sense today, this week or next week than that involving the possible purchase of Calvary and the possible or potential sale of Clare Holland House. I will expedite a departmental response to the specifics of your question.
MR SPEAKER: Ms Bresnan, a supplementary question?
MS BRESNAN: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Will the Minister also please advise what the actual figures are for when staff numbers were at their highest and what they are now?