HOSPITAL CARE: Lady Bjelke Petersen Hospital Director of Nursing Michelle Carrett with the Director of Clinical Services, Michael Bishop.
HOSPITAL CARE: Lady Bjelke Petersen Hospital Director of Nursing Michelle Carrett with the Director of Clinical Services, Michael Bishop. Michael Nolan

Dying close to family

THE Lady Bjelke Petersen Hospital took in its first palliative care patient last weekend.

While the woman sadly passed away, the fact that she was able to do so near her family and in her home town has brought great comfort in her final hours.

The hospital's director of clinical services, Michael Bishop, said this was the motivation behind opening the three-bed palliative care unit.

"If you have a loved one who is about to pass away, you want them in their homes or near their home, you don't want them down in Brisbane where there is no family nearby,” he said.

"Most people want to die in their own community.”

The hospital's palliative care unit officially opened in November last year and has three suites.

Each has an ensuite and a sitting area along with shared kitchenette for family members to prepare food. Importantly, they are closed and quiet spaces unlike what you would find in a public hospital.

Mr Bishop said this quietness was important for a dignified death.

"In a public hospital, people can hear all your family talking or grieving or fighting or whatever happens to family, it's a stressful time,” he said.

"But here, Kingaroy and the South Burnett now have a quiet place that people can be with their loved one as they pass.”

The hospital also gives support to individuals who want to die at home through its After Hour and Outreach Palliative Care Service.

It's estimated about 40 people are currently administering palliative care at home and about 10 of those people are in the later stages of dying.

Mr Bishop said carers can call at any time and talk to a qualified palliative care nurse aboutt heir concerns, whether it be about pain medication, sudden downturns in a dying person's condition or alternative ways to manage symptoms.

As a private hospital, there are fees involved but Mr Bishop, Southbank Day Hospital and the Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen Hospital Foundation have worked out an arrangement to reduce gap fees.

For the first five days of a patient's stay, the the foundation will chip in $100 per person per day while Southbank Day Hospital will reduce the fees to meet an insurance cap.