Supporting the choices of palliative care patients


A palliative care program funded by Australia’s largest health insurer, Bupa, has shown a growing preference among its patients to die at home, and enabled most to die in the location of their choice.

Since 2016, the Bupa Palliative Care Choices Program, delivered by St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Brisbane, has enabled 86% of Bupa patients to die in their preferred setting (home or hospital), while 41% of all participants were able to die at home. This is in contrast to Grattan Institute research which demonstrated that of the 70% who said that they would like to die at home, only 14% actually did so[1].

The program offers Bupa customers the choice to receive personalised specialist intensive palliative care and support at home – or in hospital – depending on their choice and needs.

Bupa’s Managing Director of Health Insurance, Emily Amos, said this program reinforces Bupa’s commitment to supporting customers through all life stages.

“Just as we would with childbirth, it’s important that we are able to assist customers nearing the end of their lives with dignity, respect and choices about where they want to be cared for.

“Where appropriate, having the option to spend their final days at home can create a more relaxed experience for patients who can surround themselves with familiar comforts and family while receiving palliative care services from specialist staff,” Ms Amos said.

Last year, a paper published in the Internal Medicine Journal described the findings of the first 12 months of the Bupa Palliative Care Choices Program and revealed that participants died in hospital at almost half the rate of those in traditional palliative care models. Additionally, the report suggests patient and carer satisfaction with the program was very high [2].

The program has since expanded to help Bupa customers in Adelaide and Sydney receive specialist palliative care services at home, with plans to extend to Melbourne in July 2020.

“We are extremely encouraged by the outcomes of the program and hope to be able to support more customers and their families across Australia, into the future.

“The ageing of our population means that in the next 25 years, the number of Australians who die each year is predicted to double, so playing our part in improving choices and outcomes in end-of-life care is imperative,” Ms Amos said.

Media reference number: 20/069

[1] https://grattan.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/815-dying-well.pdf

[2] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/imj.14615