National Palliative Care Week provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the rights that Australians have to access high-quality care, where and when they need it.
Palliative care is provided to help people with a terminal or life-limiting illness live as comfortably as possible.
Palliative care involves physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological support, social care, bringing families together, support to meet cultural obligations, as well as counselling and grief support.
It can be delivered by a wide range of health and community providers, is not limited to any specific condition, can be delivered at any stage of illness, and can accompany curative treatments.
This year, in-home aged care provider, Home Instead, is recognising their care-givers who are dedicated to making a positive difference for their palliative care clients.
At a time of heightened emotion, anxiety and pain, Home Instead care-givers work alongside medical and allied health practitioners to tend to the emotional and practical needs of the client and their family.
Donna Watling and Judy Norman are two Home Instead care-givers who provide high standards of care for their clients.
Below, they share their challenges and insight into caring for those in palliative care.
Donna Watling, 62
Donna Watling worked in a nursing home for 15 years and it was there that she was presented with various challenges in supporting high-care clients after staffing allocations within the business shifted suddenly.
“When a client is close to passing away, you need to spend more time with them,” Watling says.
“And with many responsibilities in the nursing home and not enough staff, it was difficult to give them the care they needed.”
Watling has now been with Home Instead for nearly three years.
She has attended all of the funerals of her palliative care clients except one and has been present at the passing of 50-60 people.
“It’s important to me to attend the funeral, I get some peace of mind. It’s an opportunity to say goodbye and to have that closure, to know that I have done my job and done it well.”
Judy Norman, 66
Judy Norman worked as an aged care nurse in nursing homes and at Lidcombe Hospital for 13 years.
“I have always enjoyed taking care of others and attending to their individual needs which keeps me on my toes,” she says.
Norman has worked for Home Instead for nearly two years.
When caring for a palliative client, she recognises that part of the challenge is to know how to approach a particular situation or client.
“With experience, I know what to say and what not to say.”
For example, she says, it is important to keep talking to the client even when they are semi-conscious.
“Clients can more than likely hear you, so you need to be mindful of what you’re doing and saying.
“It does come with training, but you learn to pick up on the signs.
“You could get just a slight response with their hand or a flick from their eye, although this can sometimes be a nerve response.
“I also keep the family informed about what I’m doing.”
Norman recalls caring for her first palliative client.
“My client had terminal cancer.
“She wanted to live, but she was in a lot of pain.
“We became very close, and her death really knocked me.
“I try to remember that they are going to a better place and going to be out of pain.
“This is not a job for the faint of heart, you must be truly interested in making a difference towards the end of someone’s life.”
For more information on Home Instead’s palliative care services click here.
About Home Instead
Home Instead is a leading provider of high quality, relationship-based, in-home care for ageing adults and is now a national network of more than 40 local offices, employing over 4000 people across Australia.
Home Instead helps with a range of personal and lifestyle needs while providing welcome companionship for ageing adults.
Services include assistance with personal care, light household duties, meal preparation, medication reminders, and transport to appointments, shopping, and social outings.
Home Instead is committed to addressing the individual and national challenges of Australia’s ageing population.
Each franchised Home Instead business is independently owned and operated.