Palliative care is an essential component of modern health care services and an increasingly important part of the wider health and social care systems. Palliative care is healthcare and support for people with a life-limiting illness, their families and carers. It is provided by, or informed by, professionals who specialise in palliative care. ‘End of life’ care is provided to people approaching the end of life by health professionals, who may work in the health, community or aged care systems. Not everyone receiving end of life care needs palliative care.
NSW Health has a policy and planning role in palliative and end-of-life care, and it coordinates a wide range of service providers. Local Health Districts (LHDs) provide care services in settings such as homes, hospitals and clinics to patients with varying needs. There are several care providers that can be involved.
Due to this shared nature of palliative care — where many people, services and settings are involved in delivering care to the patient — availability and communication of information is critical. For service planning, data and evidence must be drawn from various sources in a timely and efficient way.
This audit assessed whether NSW Health is effectively planning and evaluating palliative care services, in the context of rising demand, increasingly complex needs, and the diversity of service providers.