Geraldine McNamara

Starting at 9:30am, I met with the SA PEPA Project Manager Mrs Peta Jackson who took me to The Royal Adelaide Hospital to meet with my mentors. I was feeling excited about doing a palliative care placement but then again I was nervous about meeting the team from Adelaide Palliative Care.

My mentor, Rhapsody (palliative care nurse), explained the roles and responsibilities within the palliative care team and the role of the team out in the community. That first morning I spent a few hours with her visiting patients on various wards. I hadn’t realised that patients with all illnesses could be referred to the palliative care team; I thought that only patients with cancer had access to palliative care. Rhapsody was very nice and explained nursing notes and broke it down to the terminology that I could understand.

I was able to meet some of the patients and was truly blessed to see how Rhapsody interacted with the patients. She was soft spoken, gentle and caring. I noticed that she also allowed time for the patient to talk and ask questions. This is important when dealing with our mob as we need to allow time and space for questions or reflection.

During my time in Adelaide I was also able to visit various Aboriginal Services and the step down unit. This was good to see where our mob can go when they come down for appointments. I learnt that it all starts by finding the right time and place and getting the discussion happening. As health workers we need to gain some confidence and the only way we can do this is through education and support.

The day and week ended with an evaluation form for me just reflecting on how my week at the Royal Adelaide Hospital went and also to talk about what I have learnt and what I can do as an Aboriginal Health Worker. This PEPA placement enabled me to network with people from different agencies within the palliative care area and enabled me to put names to faces as well as gain knowledge around palliative care. Overall, I enjoyed Peta’s company throughout my placement and with the support from her and the entire experience I will be better able to assist a client or loved one as they go through their final stage of life.

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