Bupa Palliative Care Choices Program

Information for health services, providers, health professionals and aged care facilities.

Commencing 1 August 2016, Bupa and St Vincent’s Private Hospital Brisbane are conducting a two-year pilot program to deliver an innovative model of home-based palliative care that improves end-of-life care and offers greater choice - called the Bupa Palliative Care Choices Program. 

The Bupa Palliative Care Choices Program aims to improve access to highly specialised and comprehensive palliative care services so people can die at home, if that is their choice. 

According to the Grattan Institute, in Australia 70 percent of people want to die at home, yet only about 14 percent do so. In the next 25 years the number of Australians who die each year will double. Considering how best to improve end-of-life care to give people dignity, respect and choice is imperative. 

Without adequate and comprehensive palliative care many people find themselves in the acute hospital system at end-of-life, an outcome which may be traumatic for both patients and families. Patients who receive specialist palliative care at home often live longer and die more peacefully than those in an acute hospital.

This project represents a Queensland first where the private sector has collaborated to deliver this model of home-based palliative care.

Pilot site - St Vincent’s Private Hospital Brisbane

St Vincent’s Private Hospital Brisbane pioneers the way in palliative care with highly specialised inpatient and community specialist palliative care services that offer specialist care at home and specialist hospital inpatient care. There is no equivalent service in the community or aged care facilities in Queensland.

At the core of the service is optimising quality-of-life for people with compassion, integrity and dignity. It is based on helping people live at home for as long as possible and focuses on ease of access, individualised care at the patients’ place of choice, a seamless and co-ordinated patient journey and better outcomes and satisfaction for patients and those who support them.

How it works:

Specialist palliative care multidisciplinary assessment and advanced care planning 

Following referral from a general practitioner, specialist or hospital for assessment, an initial consultation is undertaken by a specialist palliative medicine physician and nurse of the Specialist Palliative Care Service. Initial consultation can take place as a hospital outpatient, in the individual’s home, or at an aged care facility. 

If the patient is admitted onto the Bupa Palliative Care Choices Program a palliative medicine physician, specialist palliative care nurse and allied health team member (counsellor, physiotherapist or occupational therapist), together with the patient and those who support them, create a care plan. The care plan is made available to the patient’s GP and other specialist teams and is reviewed at eight weeks and modified as needed. 

Specialist Palliative Care Service at Home

A 24-hour, seven-day specialist consultancy support and advice service including immediate support via a telephone help line with specialist palliative care nurses is available. After initial assessment and development of a care plan, follow-up consultations with the Specialist Palliative Care Service monitor progress and help people remain well at home. The care plan is modified as the patient’s condition changes. 

Intensive Specialist Palliative Care at Home

Patients with complex symptoms, or in the terminal phase, who want to stay at home to die but require intensive support to avoid hospital admission can receive intensive support at home. Support consists of daily care by a specialist palliative care nurse, regular review by a palliative medicine physician and up to 12 hours per day additional domiciliary nursing support. 

Palliative Care Specialist Inpatient Unit

A specialist inpatient unit is available if in-hospital care, or help to manage pain or other distressing symptoms, is required. Patients can access the unit anytime of the day or night.


Bupa members in the Brisbane City Council catchment determined eligible by the St Vincent’s Private Hospital Brisbane Community Specialist Palliative Care Service.


General practitioners (including GPs at aged care facilities), independent specialists, other hospital physicians and doctors can refer a patient directly to the Bupa Palliative Care Choices Program. Referral forms are available online https://svphb.org.au/home/professionals/gps/referrals or doctors can use their existing referral tools.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual. World Health Organization

More information

Contact St Vincent’s Private Hospital Brisbane, Community Specialist Palliative Care Service Call Manager, Annabelle May on (07) 3240 1168 or 0428 214 828 (Mobile).

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