Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan) (19:22): My adjournment matter is directed to the Minister for Equality, Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services, the Honourable Martin Foley. The Andrews Labor government has announced investment to give more patients the opportunity to recover from illness or surgery at home with the comfort and familiarity of family and friends as part of the new Better at Home initiative.
The Victorian budget 2020–21 will spend $120.9 million over three years on the program to meet growing demand for health care through increased delivery of hospital services in patients’ homes. This investment will include $102.6 million to provide a range of different types of care at home, including clinic appointments, chemotherapy, post-surgical care and rehabilitation, making a real difference to people’s lives. Virtual care technology will be boosted through a $12.5 million investment to sustain the high rates of telehealth we have achieved during the pandemic and support the development of innovative new models of 21st-century care. A further $5.8 million will help health services to engage the clinical workforce in this transformation of care in Victoria through training, support and clinical redesigns which will provide more options to receive care at home.
Through Better at Home up to 50 000 chemotherapy appointments could be delivered in living rooms across Victoria, or 50 000 days Victorians previously spent in hospital recovering or undertaking rehabilitation could be done from the comfort of home, freeing up around 160 hospital beds. The initiative will also improve quality of care, enabling patients to choose to recover in a familiar environment rather than in hospital if they prefer. Clinical evidence shows patients achieve better outcomes at home where they avoid the physical deterioration, sleep disruption and social isolation associated with hospital stays.
The growth of telehealth during the coronavirus pandemic will also benefit from the Better at Home initiative, with more consultations able to be done with recovering patients through electronic channels. Through the initiative funding will be available for health services to design and implement shared service models for home-based and virtual care, enabling them to upscale and specialise quickly. This initiative will be welcomed by a lot of families in my constituency of the Western Metropolitan Region. The action I seek from the minister is to provide my office with an update on the time line for the commencement of this initiative and to provide details of what the health services in the western suburbs need to do to participate in this important initiative.