PDH Palliative Care Volunteers Help Make Life Easier

Friday, 31 July 2015
Portland District Health has a new group of trained palliative care volunteers to help make life a little bit easier for patients and their families and carers living at home with a life limiting illness.

Eight new volunteers have recently graduated from their nine-week training program, and join six existing volunteers in the field.

PDH Coordinator of Volunteers Trish Rawlings said the volunteers perform an important role in the community.

They do anything within their scope of practice that the families or their carers need, Mrs Rawlings said.

They can go into the home and sit with patients while the carer gets some sleep; they might take people for a drive for a coffee or to buy groceries; or they might help people get to appointments, she said.

The new influx of volunteers is timely with constant demand for support in the community.

There's always a strong demand for volunteers and we endeavour to have availability for support when needed, hence training a further eight volunteers, Mrs Rawlings said. We like to continue the support and make sure we have a volunteer to be able to help people in their homes when they need it.

The nine-week training program covered; what is palliative care, the volunteers role, diversity and spirituality, communication, illnesses , symptoms, dying , death, grief and loss and self-care of the volunteer.

While palliative care volunteering is a rewarding activity, it can also be challenging.

It is a specialised field. It's not something we can expect our volunteers to do without initial and ongoing training and support, Mrs Rawlings said.

Palliative care volunteering attracts a wide variety of people, including those who have been personally touched by similar experiences or people who just want to give back to the community.

Some of the volunteers have been through that situation themselves and know the importance of what they can offer the carer, Mrs Rawlings said.

While there is demand for the service, there are also many people wanting to do the training and become volunteers,she said.

Life doesn't stop for carers and we are pleased our volunteers can help out as a caring and confidential service working under the supervision of our highly trained palliative care nurses and specialist doctors.

The new palliative care volunteers are Lyn Newby, Yvonne Donnell, Heather Fitzgerald, Kaye Talbot, Tania Butcher, Deanna Bird, Heather Burton and Bev Turner.

These recently trained volunteers join Gail Baulch, Ida Tevelin, Margie Oates, Pauline Gottwaltz, Jeannette Beauglehole and Lyn Smith who trained in 2010 and have a broad range of life experience in the field.

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