National Palliative Care Week (NPCW) seeks to raise awareness about the many benefits of quality palliative care. One of the great myths about palliative care is that it’s only a synonym for end-of-life care. But it’s so much more than that and that’s why this year’s theme is Palliative Care. It’s more than you think. NPCW provides the opportunity to discuss the benefits of palliative care and celebrate the amazing dedication of everyone working and volunteering in palliative care across Australia. Here at home, we have 16 in our Community Palliative Care (CPC) team. These compassionate individuals support local people wishing to stay in their Moyne, Corangamite and Warrnambool homes.
Determined to ensure COVID-19 wouldn’t put a stop to celebrating this year’s NPCW, our Cancer Services and Community Palliative Care nurse unit manager Andrea Janes says our usual afternoon tea where everyone comes together has been replaced by a special in-house event. Every patient and carer will receive a gift bag to enjoy a cuppa in the comfort of their own home, and both patients and carers will also receive an invitation to attend an upcoming Capitol Cinema screening of Dream Horse. This movie initiative has been generously funded by the South West Community Fund.
The team will also host a dinner for our SWH palliative care volunteers to gather and reflect on the amazing work they continue to do in supporting patients and carers both in their homes and in hospital. We currently have just under 100 active palliative care volunteers providing social support, hand and foot massage, compiling patient’s life stories, and providing transport. Andrea says they are an integral component of our palliative care team.
As always, our bereaved carers will also be included in our NPCW activities. Traditionally, we host a remembrance ceremony and invite bereaved families to come along and honour their loved ones who we’ve cared for during the previous 12 months. Pandemic precautions makes this difficult this year so, instead, our team has come up with a touching alternative where each bereaved carer (we have approximately 100 of them) will have daffodil bulbs mailed to them for planting in a special place in memory of who they’ve lost.
NPCW also sees our CPC staff undertaking education to enhance their knowledge on new immunotherapy and targeted therapy treatments for cancer patients, and management of shortness of breath for patients living with lung conditions. This knowledge will be taken out into the clinical space, ultimately benefitting patient care. They will also enjoy breakfast together to reflect on the everyday work they do to undertake providing high quality end-of-life care within the community setting.
We are in awe of everyone working and volunteering in palliative care. We recognise your amazing work and can’t thank you enough.
PHOTO: SWH Community Palliative Care clinical nurse consultants Debbie Gerdtz and Josh Guiney with samples of the gifts we’re about to deliver to our patients, carers and bereaved families