Gwydir Shire palliative care project completed

May 5, 2009

It is with a great deal of satisfaction that Angela Stones is able to look back on the progress of the Gwydir Shire Palliative Partnerships Project, which officially ended on 31 March, 2009.

In May 2006, Bingara and Warialda hospitals received Federal Government funding to improve care planning for palliative clients in the Gwydir Shire.

As a former community health nurse in Bingara, Angela was appointed as the Project Officer. Her job was to investigate improvements to be made in the provision of a comprehensive palliative care service and to facilitate the development of guidelines and resources to aid the process of care planning.

Angela has been supported in her role by the Health Service Managers of Bingara and Warialda Multi Purpose Services, Sue Mack and Sharon Baker, as well as the General Manager of the McIntyre Cluster, Lynne Shands.

This management team, along with representation from local health professionals and community organisations, in the form of an advisory committee, have worked collaboratively to produce resources that are relevant to the needs of the local community using a flexible model of care to support the physical, emotional and spiritual care of people who are no longer responding to medical treatment, as well as their families and loved ones.

During the project, Angela has worked closely and collaboratively with Penny Abbington from the Northern New England Palliative Care Planning Project.

Penny’s project has been based at H.N.McLean Retirement Village in Inverell and has had a focus on delivering a palliative approach to their aged care residents as well as those in the community.

Together Angela and Penny have produced a number of resources which include a competency based training package titled “Caring for an Older Person with Complex Needs Relating to the Presence of Pain”.

This training package incorporates a DVD produced by Mr Steve Webber and written and directed by Angela and Penny titled “The Impeccable Assessment of Pain”. This DVD was launched at the Roxy Theatre in July last year and utilizes members of the North-west Theatre Company for some of its content.

“Working together on the production of the training package has been one of the highlights and successful outcomes of the project and proves that even disparate organisations can work together to achieve great things,” Angela said.

“Other successful resources to be developed by the project include a total Palliative Care Planning Package. This package includes a Home-Based Record of Care Folder, a Patient Diary and a Carer’s Box. “These resources are underpinned by a document that provides guidance on the delivery of palliative care services in the area. This document has been adopted by the project’s partners as an enduring Memorandum of Understanding for the future.” Although the project is now completed, Angela says there is still much to be done to disseminate its successful outcomes.

Angela and Penny will be attending conferences and forums Australia-wide during the next 12 months to aid this process.

So far they have been invited to present their findings at the National Conference on Caring on the Gold Coast, The Australian Association of Gerontologists Conference at Broken Hill, the Hunter New England Clinical Innovations Showcase in Muswellbrook and the National Palliative Care Conference in Perth.

“Although the formal activity phase of the project has been finalised, there are further plans to introduce an organisation to the local area that provides a mentoring program for the carers of the terminally ill,” Angela said. “I, along with Penny and members of Home Hospice, will conduct information sessions in the local area during May to gauge the level of community support for the training of mentors in our area.

Further information in relation to these sessions will soon be made available.”