Palliative care needs projected to soar

A new report projects the number of Kiwis dying in aged residential care homes is set to soar by 84% over the next several decades, backing NZACA’s call for increased palliative care funding for our sector.

Prepared for the Ministry of Health, the report says as the population ages, thousands more Kiwis will die each year, significantly more of them will die in residential care than any other place of death, and more will need palliative care.

Total annual deaths are projected by Statistics NZ to increase from around 30,000 in 2016 to almost 45,000 by 2038. If historic patterns continue, the proportion of New Zealand dying in residential care over that period will increase from 34% to 43%, while the proportion of Kiwis dying in other places will decrease, including public hospitals, private residents and hospice in-patient units.

As the population ages, people will die older and the needs of the dying will also increase. Between 2016 and 2038, it’s projected that deaths needing palliative care will increase faster in our care homes than any other places of death – from:

  • 10,420 to 19,000 in residential care – up 84%
  • 7,307 to 10,045 in hospitals – up 37.5%
  • 11,329 to 13,867 in hospice IPU – up 22.4%

The ARC sector’s capability to meet this growing demand for palliative care isn’t factored into the report, but it does highlight the importance of discussions between DHBs and the sector on this issue.

This new report aligns with independent research we commissioned last year to inform our 2015-2016 ARRC submission. It showed deaths in aged residential care homes increasing faster than for any other place of death – a trend we now see is projected to increase exponentially.

We support new initiatives in the palliative care area, including the Government’s announcement in early August 2016 that up to 60 new palliative care positions are being established as part of the Government’s $76.1 million boost for hospices.

However, this new report leaves no doubt that our sector also needs significant extra investment to continue to deliver quality palliative care for residents and support families and whanau.

We now have powerful evidence to back our call for a distinct palliative care supplement, together with consistent reimbursement for palliative care across all settings of care. The DHBs will not want more deaths in public hospital and should be prepared to resource ARC to manage these deaths. If this doesn’t happen, public hospitals may be overwhelmed by more people at the end of life.  

  • Posted 3 years ago by Chief Executive, NZACA and Simon Wallace