Graphic: RFDS Palliative Care Nurse Abbe Rejack

Flying Doctor extends whole-of-life care through new palliative care program

Date published

26 May 2021

For the first time in its history, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) (Queensland Section) is now trialing specialised palliative care services for people living in rural and remote Queensland.

RFDS (Queensland Section) Chief Executive Officer Meredith Staib announced the new program as part of National Palliative Care Week (May 23 – 29).

She said the aim of the program was to deliver in-person and in-community care to help ensure greater quality of life throughout a person's final days.

“This means extending the time someone can live in their home and community, regardless of whether they reside in far western Queensland or a major city,” she said.

“Our intention is to eventually roll out the service across all current RFDS primary health care locations in Queensland.”

RFDS Palliative Care Nurse Abbe Rejack

RFDS (Queensland Section) Palliative Care Nurse Abbe Rejack has begun trialling the program in communities throughout outback Queensland.

She said the new service would help bridge a current gap in palliative care service delivery for people in remote areas.

“Palliative care provisions in these communities are very limited, so if there is a possibility to safely and effectively deliver end-of-life care in the community, that is what we will do,” she said.

“Providing a face-to-face assessment, complimentary to the telehealth services currently delivered by other healthcare providers, allows us to more thoroughly treat someone’s symptoms to help promote good quality of life, while supporting individuals to live as well as possible for as long as possible in their preferred place of care”.

Following the initial assessment, RFDS palliative care specialists formulate a contingency plan with the patient and their family outlining how and when there should be a transfer of care to a hospital setting.

Ms Staib said initial community feedback has been extremely positive.

“Ideally, if this role was to expand, we would consider employing additional specialist palliative care nurses to better serve the state,” she said.

“Telehealth is a great option once you've met and engaged with the person, however offering a complimentary face-to-face service will further assist in the level of care we can provide.

“We firmly believe that all Queenslanders deserve access to the best healthcare possible throughout their entire life, regardless of where they live. This palliative care program is just another way the Flying Doctor is helping to deliver on that promise.”