Palliative care is often overlooked when discussing health management and delivery, but it is an essential service that can have a tremendous and far-reaching effect on well-being , not just for the patient, but for their families and carers as well. Quality palliative care isn’t just dependent on nurs- ing staff – many volunteers work alongside health professionals to provide crucial and compassionate end-of-life care.
The not-for-profit organisation Neighbourhood Central has been involved with pallia- tive care volunteers since about 2012, and works in conjunction with the Parkes Palliative Care team. The volunteers visit people at home or in the community, offering support and companionship for people in pallia- tive care, as well as their family and carers.
The Parkes Palliative Care Team receives about 110 referrals a year.
Parkes Palliative Care Clinical Nurse Specialist Bernadette Orange was one of the pioneers behind the service. She said that volunteers are a valuable part of the palliative care team.
Palliative care NSW recently completed a survey of nurses’ experiences of palliative care volunteers, called: A space of caring: NSW nurses’ experiences of Palliative Care Volunteers in inpatient settings.
The survey emphasised the importance of volunteers in providing care. Of the respondents, 89% agreed that volunteers display empathy and emotional awareness and contributed to better palliative care, and 70% said they would like more volunteers in their service.
Palliative care volunteers attached to Neighbourhood Central are hosting a conference at the Railway Hotel next Thursday. There will be presentations from key speakers, interactive discussions, networking opportunities, plus time to reflect on the role of volunteers in palliative care today.
“We are really proud of our volunteers, and for the support of Neighbourhood Central,” Bernadette said. “Not everyone in palliative care will experience pain, but the pain is made worse when a person is distressed about something in their life,” she said. “This conference is all about the important role that the volunteers have in easing that sort of pain and in supporting people in our community.”
For more information visit www.volun- teerhub.com.au or contact Tony Fisher on 0428 970 559.