A call for night-time palliative care is being answered across South Canterbury, giving families respite while allowing their loved ones to remain at home.
The initiative, called Hospice in the Home, Night Carer Service, was recently launched thanks to a $100,000 Government “innovation fund”.
Positions in the night-carer service, offered free of charge by Hospice South Canterbury in collaboration with the South Canterbury District Health Board (SCDHB), attracted 60 “good” applicants.
Of those applicants, 24 are now employed to sit in the home of a person requiring night-time palliative care, giving family members a chance to get some sleep.
“I feel really proud to be able to work for hospice.” – Averil Smith
Until now, anyone who needed palliative care at night either had to rely on family to care for them or be admitted to a hospice or hospital.
Averil Smith, of Timaru, is among those providing assistance.
“I think it’s an honour to go and help the people that need help.”
She had worked in the care sector for many years, something she felt “privileged” to have been able to do, she said.
“I feel really proud to be able to work for hospice.”
Hospice South Canterbury clinical nurse manager Faye Gillies said referrals for the night-time service were made through the SCDHB’s palliative team and district nurses.
If a person qualified, a hospice assistant would be allocated to them and provide them with five nights’ care, from 10pm to 8am, either consecutively or spread out over weeks or months, she said.
The night carer did not administer medication, Mrs Gillies said.
A family member must remain in the home while the night carer is there.
If further assistance is required, the night carer will contact a hospice registered nurse, and if a callout is needed, an after-hours district nurse will be contacted.
“So we work in closely with the DHB,” Mrs Gillies said.
Hospice South Canterbury general manager Peter O’Neill said the service had helped fill a gap in the wider community. Night carers were now working in Fairlie, Waimate, Geraldine, Pleasant Point, Temuka and Timaru, he said.
The service had been a year in the planning, much of that time having been spent identifying where there were gaps in palliative care across the region, he said.