Claire Gibbons has been named 2012 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards - Regional Individual Achievement recipient and our Palliative Care Massage Team has been named 2012 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards - Regional Team Achievement recipient. This team consists of Gail Down, Cathy Gibbons, Damian Goss, Maureen Healey, Heather McCosker, Olive McKenzie, Phyllis McLeish, Ann Nicolson, Lesley Togni and Elinor Winter.
At the ceremony, Health Minister Davis described each as an outstanding and truly inspiring individual.
‘We are a very fortunate community, where volunteers from all backgrounds, ages and interests are committed and passionate in their care of others,’ he said. ‘Nearly one in three Victorians volunteer in some capacity – what sets health volunteers apart is their dedication to serve the frail, sick and vulnerable members of our community. This work is not always easy and requires special care and attention. I am not surprised when I hear how volunteers inspire professional staff every day.’
SWH Chief Executive Officer John Krygger was the first to congratulate the 11 as those who attended the event arrived back home.
‘We are very proud of all of our 290 volunteers and it’s so pleasing that a number of them have received statewide recognition from the Minister of Health. Claire, the Palliative Care Massage Team and the rest of our registered volunteers are the unsung heroes of our health service. We are indebted to them, we congratulate them, and we thank them,’ he said.
So why do our volunteers stand out from the crowd? According to SWH Coordinator of Volunteers Marita Thornton, Claire‘s unselfish and generous nature means she’s always willing to go the extra mile to help support palliative care patients in any way she can.
‘Her willingness to engage with patients in an empathetic manner, her caring and compassion are perfect for her role as one of our 36 palliative care volunteers,’ says Marita.
‘At times this type of volunteering can be an emotional and sad journey but Claire always maintains her bright and cheery nature. She is not only an asset to our palliative care volunteer team but also a great ambassador for our palliative care service.’
Notably, SWH volunteer Marjorie Crothers was the 2011 recipient of the title Claire has just been awarded.
The award-winning Palliative Care Massage Team, meantime, offers massage to palliative care patients in our Warrnambool Base Hospital Palliative Care Unit and, at times, in these patients’ own homes. These volunteers give generously of their time to attend extra training and annual updates to enable them to offer this unique and much-valued service for our patients.
‘Each member of the team is a dedicated, compassionate and caring volunteer who is willing to not only work on their rostered day but also to attend patients’ homes when the need arises. Both patients and staff say the gentle massage administered by them helps relieve stress and helps settle restlessness,’ explains Marita.
‘Each of these volunteers is also trained in communication skills so that they can provide a listening ear for any palliative care patient who may be troubled about some aspect of their illness. They instinctively know when a patient wishes to only receive a quiet and gentle massage, and when a patient also wants to talk through something. At all times they treat our patients with great respect and compassion. They are very welcome members of our (34-member) Palliative Care Volunteer Team and very worthy recipients of this award.’
Our volunteers also stand out from the crowd because of Marita’s dedication to her role and because of our Board of Directors and Executive Team’s commitment to resourcing a Volunteer Unit.
Marita’s volunteer program is responsible for 290 registered volunteers who assist with the delivery of 44 programs at eight different SWH sites. Not only does each of them generously donate their time, energy and expertise but, in pure monetary terms, last year they also donated $709,461 in unpaid labor.