January 22, 2021

Dr Hayes appointed Honorary Associate Professor

Dr Barbara Hayes, Clinical Lead of Advance Care Planning and a Palliative Care Consultant, was recently appointed as Honorary Associate Professor in Medical Education at the University of Melbourne. Here she discusses her role at Northern Health and in the Northern Clinical School.

Can you tell us more about your role in teaching and research?

I have been teaching medical students since I qualified as a Palliative Care Consultant. I am very passionate about sharing my knowledge of palliative care and the limits of medicine to cure. This teaching expanded to include communication skills, ethics and law relating to end-of-life decisions, consent, and advance care planning. This is teaching I do in the Northern Clinical School.

I have also been involved in initiatives that have been underpinned by research. I came to research later in my career, particularly after discovering qualitative research. I completed a PhD at the University of Melbourne, ‘Ethical CPR decision-making’, which gave me skills and confidence to do further research. I love to learn from people’s stories.

I was involved in developing a Northern Health approach to advance care planning that was based on our local research. This approach has been adopted by many health services across Victoria and when you see ACP brochures at other hospitals, you will often recognise the link. I also chaired a DHHS Working Group that developed resources for people who lack capacity to complete an Advance Care Directive, resources now widely used in Victoria.

Northern Health was the first health service in Victoria to adopt a Goals of Patient Care form, an innovation built on work that I had been involved with in Tasmania. It has now been adopted widely across Victoria and interstate, following published research from Northern Health. I am really pleased to see this. The Goals of Patient Care promotes shared decision-making, and considering the medical treatment plan in a positive way whilst recognising when treatment limitations are required. We have developed and published an evaluation of a Residential Aged Care version of the Goals of Care and the next step is a community version.

How long have you worked at Northern Health?

I have been with Northern Health from a time when we were part of the North Western Healthcare Network. In 1995, I was looking after palliative care in-patient beds at what is currently known as the Royal Park campus of the Royal Melbourne Hospital. When Northern Health split from this Network, the beds and I were moved to Broadmeadows Health Service in 2002, where I looked after a dedicated Palliative Care Unit and provided a consult service to the rest of Northern Health until taking on the ACP role while studying for the PhD.

What does the promotion to Honorary Associate Professor mean for you?

I am very grateful to Dr Leonie Griffiths, Director of Medical Education at Northern Clinical School, for suggesting and supporting this promotion. It feels very special to have my work and my contribution to the University recognised in this way. There is still much more that I want to do.

Dr Griffiths says, “Barbara has made a wonderful contribution through teaching University of Melbourne medical students over two decades. During that time, she opened their eyes to the importance of end-of–life care, and to the rewards and complexities of supporting patients and their families through this time.”

Chief Medical Officer, Wanda S Stelmach, joins us in congratulating Barbara and says, “Barbara has been a stalwart member of the Northern Health medical staff for over 20 years. She is the perfect example of a quiet achiever. Her caring and compassionate approach has driven better patient care in a period of a person’s life that is confronting.”

She adds, “Her learned advice has led to decisions that have improved palliative care and end-of-life decisions in the Australian community. She is greatly respected and admired by her patients and their families, as well as her colleagues, trainees and medical students alike.”