May 27, 2021

National Palliative Care Week: It’s more than you think.

National Palliative Care Week 2021 is being marked with the theme ‘Palliative Care It’s more than you think,‘ which seeks to raise awareness about the many benefits of quality palliative care. One of the great myths about palliative care is that it is only a synonym for end-of-life care. It is so much more than that.

Says Barbara Watson, a Registered Nurse in the Palliative Care Unit, “We are very lucky to have a beautiful modern facility to work within at Palliative Care at Northern Health. However it’s what happens inside this structure that we are most proud of.”

Barbara Watson, Registered Nurse, Palliative Care Unit

Barbara goes onto say, “We have a united team where many of the staff have worked together for years. We come to work knowing we will be supported by management and enjoy the camaraderie of our colleagues.”

“The primary beneficiaries of this philosophy are our patients and their families. Happy staff that present with a positive attitude are willing to give their all and demonstrate unique skills required for Palliative Care. Patients and their loved ones are so appreciative of our care, they frequently provide us with wonderful feedback which assists in sustaining our work efforts.”

“Recently a lovely patient said, “This is a wonderful place, you all get on so well together. It’s a happy place and I feel so well supported.”

Poster developed by the Palliative Care team for the Week

Adds Barbara, “Obviously there is great sadness at times when patients are dying and their families are grieving. It can be a difficult time for staff too. However the kindness demonstrated by staff will be long remembered after the actual death. Death is part of life, and to be actively available during this time is an absolute privilege.”

Sentiments echoed by Lorraine, who recently lost her husband Bill.

“My husband Bill  recently passed away at the Palliative Care Unit. Sadly the result of my husband’s stay could only have resulted in the saddest of ways but during that time he was treated by all the staff with respect, caring and dignity.”

“The same respect, caring and concern was afforded to me. We were told that the staff considered that they had two patients in the room – being my husband and myself. Even while my husband was in a coma, the staff talked to him explaining what they would be doing i.e. turning, washing, swabbing his mouth, checking his driver (a device to administer drugs) even shaving him even though he was in a coma.”

“Everything was explained to him beforehand. The staff including Pam the volunteer constantly checked on my husband and myself. Even after my husband passed away, I received calls from Dr Jackie Yoong the oncologist and Pam, checking on my welfare. The whole staff are amazing for their endless compassion to the patients’ and families.”

Pam, volunteer at the Palliative Care unit (in pre-Covid days)

Alison Giles, Medical Director of Palliative Care, says, “Palliative Care Week is a chance to promote the philosophy of Palliative Care, to accept death and dying as part of life, to celebrate the nurses, doctors, cleaners, administrative staff, volunteers and many others who work so hard to make sad and difficult times that little bit easier, and to celebrate the bravery and wisdom of our patients and their loved ones which we bear witness to on a daily basis”.

Featured image shows the Palliative Care team.