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With most hospice services focused on cancer patients, many of our non-cancer terminally-ill do not receive adequate palliative care in the twilight of their lives. Programme IMPACT was created to address this gap, where care teams work within the community to offer better end-of-life care.

Programme IMPACT stands for “Programme of Integrated Management & PAlliative Care for the Terminally-ill Non-Cancer Patients.” Programme Director, Dr Wu Huei Yaw, Senior Consultant, Department of Palliative Medicine, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, spoke with us about the programme.

“Patients with end-stage organ failure have fairly different care needs from patients with advanced cancer,” he explained. “They have unique disease trajectories and many of them may still require acute hospital treatment and organ specialists’ input at different points of their disease.”

Dr Wu emphasised the importance of a home care team in bridging the transitions between home and hospital settings. These teams are made up of Palliative Medicine specialists and resident physicians, nurses, medical social workers and administrative support staff.

They monitor and manage the patients’ conditions through regular home visits and phone consultations, working closely with the patients’ main organ specialists, as well as community partners. After-officehour phone consultations and home visits by a doctor are available if needed. Everything required to offer the patient the right care.

In its first 8 months (Oct 2017 - May 2018), 85 patients were enrolled into Programme IMPACT. Prospective patients are carefully screened, and will only be enrolled if their next-of-kin understand the programme and its services.

“The team finds the work very meaningful,” said Dr Wu.

“We are happy to be able to make a difference to the end-of-life care of our patients.”

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