March 21, 2023

We Are Northern: This is the Palliative Care team

The Inpatient Palliative Care (PC) unit is located in Ward 3 at Northern Hospital Epping. It is a 16-bed unit with shared and private rooms for adult patients diagnosed with a health condition that cannot be cured. The nature of the patients admitted to the PC unit varies from patients at the end of their life to patients with pain issues, which need to be managed more effectively. The unit also provides respite care for primary carers.

The PC multi-disciplinary team seeks to deliver a comprehensive care suite by holistically addressing symptoms and concerns for patients and their families.

Patients cared for in the ward might need help with:

  • Symptom assessment and management – such as pain, breathlessness, nausea, anxiety, and others.
  • Talking about the diagnosis, treatment options and future care planning.
  • Making plans for ongoing care outside of the hospital, such as accessing community services, equipment for home, carer training, and moving into residential care.
  • Care at the end of life.
  • Other situations requiring inpatient specialist palliative care.

The PC team consists of many dedicated health professionals who have chosen the field because they are passionate about helping others and have impeccable work ethics. Some of the nurses who have joined the PC unit through the Graduate Nurse Program, say that the work experience enabled them to get a better insight into what palliative care is and they felt truly inspired by the team.

“Starting as a graduate nurse in PC many years ago, I’ve learned from an amazing team and enjoy working in a difficult but rewarding area. I’ve had the opportunity to share many special moments with patients and their families, such as weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. These moments remind me why the PC unit is such an important place, and I’m grateful to be part of a team that can provide this kind of care,” says Clinical Nurse Specialist and former nurse student, Shannon Wilson.

Northern Health social worker, Kirsty Winton, says that many people have the impression that working in PC would be sad or depressing, but to her, the PC unit is a special place.

“I have never worked with such genuinely caring and compassionate people who go out of their way to make patients and their families feel at home. To be able to make a small difference in the lives of people that have a life-limiting illness is a real privilege,” she said.

Pastoral Care Chaplain, Melanie Moore, says she feels privileged to be part of the PC team.

“Northern Health recognises that those who use our service, and our staff, are diverse in many ways. The recognition and inclusion of spiritual care offers a holistic model of care in this diverse setting. Working alongside various disciplines in the PC unit for optimal patient outcomes, offers a benchmark standard of care that is often recognised by affirming feedback on the PC unit service,” she said.

The pandemic presented many challenges for both patients and staff at the PC unit. Due to the strict COVID-19 restrictions at the time, the entire PC unit had to be relocated to a different facility. With the introduction of vaccines as a mandatory requirement and strict protocols for patients’ visitors put in place, the unit slowly adapted to the changes the pandemic brought and continued to serve the community.

In 2022, the PC unit was relocated back to Ward 3 at Northern Hospital Epping. Staff are confident that during 2023, they will continue to provide all the necessary care and support for patients, their families and loved ones. They are also hoping to see improvements to the garden area and create a special space for the patients to make their stay in the unit more enjoyable.

Thank you to the Palliative Care team for all that you do for our patients and their families! 

Pictured: The Palliative Care team