Oncologist Dr. Belinda Yeoh and a patientDoctor and patientDoctor and patient


In this section, you can find the following information:

Victorian Respiratory Support Service

About us

The Victorian Respiratory Support Service (VRSS) is a state-wide specialist program providing a range of services to adults with chronic respiratory failure who require long term ventilation.


Services we offer

Where are we?

We are located at Austin Hospital, Level 5, Harold Stokes Building with our inpatient team in Ward 5 West and our primary outpatient clinic located at Heidelberg Repatriation Campus.

Link to location maps

VRSS services

The Victorian State Service are national leaders in home ventilation. VRSS staff are actively involved in research optimising the methods for delivering this support. They also provide consultative advice both within Victoria and nationally.


Medical services

The VRSS Medical Staff are Respiratory and Sleep Physicians with expert knowledge in the assessment of conditions that cause chronic respiratory failure and the management with long term home ventilation. The VRSS Medical Staff see patients in clinic, via telehealth or in hospital after a referral from their treating doctor. After consultation, the VRSS medical staff may request additional testing such as arterial blood gases, specialised breathing and sleep tests to help determine if the patient will benefit from long term home ventilation. The VRSS Medical staff work closely with the multi-disciplinary care team and implementation of ventilation occurs at the Austin Hospital.

Outpatient Clinic

A Telehealth clinic is also available for patients located regionally in addition to Satellite Clinics located in other health services for the convenience of local patients.

Current Outpatient Clinics Locations:

  • Heidelberg Repatriation Campus, Centaur Wing
  • VASS clinic (home visits to the Ventilator Accommodation Support Service in Thornbury)
  • Calvary Health Care Bethlehem Hospital
  • Bundoora Extended Care Clinic 
  • Bendigo Health
  • Barwon Health
  • Peninsula Health

Multidisciplinary Inpatient Care

Inpatient specialist clinical services (state-wide)

  • Assessment and initiation of ventilation for in-patients with complex needs (including assessment through sleep studies)
  • Discharge planning and preparatory training in ventilator use for patients, families and carers

VRSS Neuromuscular Disease Clinic

The VRSS also conducts an outpatient clinic specifically for people with chronic respiratory failure due to neuromuscular diseases.

People with conditions such as motor neurone disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, other forms of muscular dystrophy and post-polio syndrome often have significant respiratory muscle weakness, meaning that they have additional health care needs. The VRSS runs a specific clinic where people can see a Respiratory and Sleep doctor and a Neurology doctor. Outpatient review by allied health team members experienced in this complex and specialised area can also be organised.



VRSS outreach service

The VRSS Outreach Service is a small team incorporating clinical nurse consultants, receptionist and biomedical engineers.  

Its role is to:  

  • Work in partnership within the VRSS multidisciplinary team in preparing the client for discharge from hospital  
  • Provide discharge education to the client, family and other carers  
  • Provide ongoing phone support  
  • Review clients in the home for mask or ventilator issues  
  • Care for Tracheostomy tubes of clients with ventilators  
  • Provide support and equipment for clients using Diaphragm Pacing  
  • Attend weekly outpatient clinic at the Repatriation Campus  
  • Attend regular satellite outpatient clinics at Bethlehem, BECC, Frankston, Bendigo and Geelong Hospitals  
  • Manage the purchase and supply of all ventilator equipment needed for care at home  
  • Periodic Service / performance test all ventilators by phone, outpatient clinic appointment or home visit 
  • Repair broken equipment  



Physiotherapists with expertise and experience in sleep medicine, ventilation and respiratory physiotherapy work within the VRSS multidisciplinary team.

The role of physiotherapy includes:

  • Starting people with chronic respiratory failure on a ventilator, normally a non-invasive ventilator (NIV) or mask ventilator
  • Reviewing sleep studies with medical staff, to diagnose sleep-related breathing problems or to fine-tune ventilator settings.
  • Assessing a person’s breathing, ability to cough and clear phlegm effectively.
  • Provide training in therapies that may improve breathing and cough
  • Assessing and treating any acute health issues when a person under the care of the VRSS is admitted to the Austin Hospital


Social Work 

VRSS patients, their families and supports have access to two social workers, both while they are in hospital and once they have been discharged.  

The VRSS social workers provide patients and their families with information, emotional support and can assist with any other concerns or questions that a patient and family may have.   

VRSS social workers can also help the patient/family with any discharge planning issues that may arise. This could include communicating and coordinating with health and community services on a patients behalf; completing referrals to community resources, for example, local council, aged care, NDIS and providing follow-up after discharge if required.  


Speech Pathology  

 VRSS patients have access to Speech Pathology during their inpatient admission, day admission and community follow up as required. Speech Pathology intervention focuses on facilitating communication and maximising safe swallowing. Speech Pathologists also work in conjunction with the VRSS team to assess and support patients who have a tracheostomy.  

Communication strategies and interventions are tailored to the individual patient’s needs. Interventions include assessing cognitive-communication disorders, implementing augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) such as communication picture or letter boards, eye gaze, touch-to-speech applications on a device, communication partner training, ventilator-adjusted leak speech and use of a one-way speaking valve.   

Swallow strategies focus on maximising safety, comfort and quality of life. Clinical bedside swallowing examinations, instrumental assessments including video fluoroscopy (moving x-ray of the swallow) and flexible endoscopic swallowing studies, support clinical decisions regarding appropriate textures of oral intake, swallowing rehabilitation and VRSS team discussions regarding enteral feeding.  


Occupational Therapy 

The VRSS occupational therapist provides assessment and treatment for clients requiring invasive or non-invasive ventilation on the VRSS ward.  Interventions completed by the Occupational Therapist include:  

  • Setting patients up safely with equipment and assistive technology
  • Discharge planning and community referrals to relevant funding bodies
  • Maximising participation and independence in Activities of daily living
  • Providing education resources to maximise participation in meaningful activities
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