Palliative Care Week – a time to take stock

June 2, 2008

Project Officer for the Gwydir Shire Palliative Partnerships Project, Angela Stones joined with other staff from Hunter New England Health Service in celebrating National Palliative Care Week 2008 from May 25 to 31.

This year’s theme is Palliative Care – A Matter of Life and Death which aims to raise awareness about death, dying and loss in our community and the value of palliative care.

Angela said Palliative Care Week is a good opportunity to give the community an update on the progress of the Gwydir Shire Palliative Partnerships Project and to remind people just what palliative care provides.

"Palliative care is holistic person-centred care for people of all ages who have a life limiting illness when there is no chance of a cure. Treatment and care therefore focuses on supporting the patient, their family and caregivers by providing care that addresses their many needs including physical symptoms such as pain, as well as their emotional, cultural, spiritual and cultural needs.

"Palliative care aims to help patients to live as well as possible, to improve their quality of life in the surroundings where they feel most comfortable. It also embraces the care of family and friends in coping with the many emotions and distress that occurs when their loved one is terminally ill," she said.

She said the Gwydir Shire Palliative Partnerships Project is progressing well and is now in its final year of funding, and she is looking forward to seeing the many care-planning initiatives integrated into the new Bingara and Warialda Multi Purpose Health Services.

"The provision of specific palliative care education to local staff, service providers and carers has been a big focus of the project," she said.

"This will continue in June with the further delivery of a staff education day by palliative care regional outreach educators from Mt Olivet Hospital in Brisbane."

Angela has also been working collaboratively with the Northern New England Palliative Care Planning Project based at McLean Retirement Village in Inverell in the production of a DVD titled "The Impeccable Assessment of Pain".

This training DVD will form part of a package to inform staff on the assessment and care planning tools that have been developed as part of the Gwydir Shire project.

"Our objective has been to implement flexible models of service delivery that meet the needs of each palliative patient within the context of the local community," she said.

This DVD will also form the basis of an oral presentation on collaborative education in rural communities, which Angela will give to the Palliative Care Nurses Australia Conference in Adelaide later this year.

On Sunday 25 May, Angela accompanied Bingara Community Health Nurse Sharon Price, to a barbecue lunch hosted by the ladies from Myall Creek CWA to share information and resources on palliative care and other community health initiatives.