At South-West Health Care I was allocated a day each with three palliative care staff members. I accompanied the staff on home visits where it was appropriate and was introduced to people utilizing the support of the service. I was impressed with the level of care and the way it was provided. Staff showed the utmost respect for each individual and while treatment options were offered and explained there was a courteous grace that allowed each person the right to decide for themselves. Issues raised by clients were immediately addressed and staff made phone calls on the spot to ensure appointments were made with specialists and that arrangements were made for transport if needed. Medications were explained and reviewed and staff showed a thorough understanding of medications related to treatment of illness and pain. The stories of clients were listened to with staff assessing the need for clients to be encouraged to reflect on some of their statements in order to better understand them. It was clear that each staff member provided the time needed by each client and their family members.
The palliative care experience impressed on me the need to provide frequent opportunities for people dealing with loss of health and life to be heard. As Eric Fairbank (palliative care physician) explains, telling our stories and being listened to with respect enables us to build sense of self and confirms our humanity and dignity. I observed staff encouraging clients to be connected to family and activity that gave purpose. This provided recognition to me that the spirit of each person would be nurtured enabling a greater strength to journey a difficult landscape.Despite being within a hospital setting the McKellar Centre, Barwon Health experience was equally impressive. The response to pain management was immediate and every care was taken to support the individuals and families when death was imminent. Privacy and practical needs were attended to and every effort was made to alleviate suffering. Care plans were clear and specific to patient needs.
Thank you for the opportunity and support to be part of PEPA, it was a great learning experience and I am deeply respectful of the knowledge and care given to our community.