Service. A small team of volunteers is hoping to ease the burden for elderly residents and their families leading into the final stages of life.
Emmerton Park’s new Palliative Care Volunteers group is working with the facility’s existing palliative care staff, aiming to improve the quality of life for patients facing a terminal illness by looking after physical and psychological needs.
With eight members completing relevant training through the Tasmanian Association for Hospice and Palliative Care, the local contingent is believed to be the first in the state to actively provide palliative care support as a volunteer group.
“It’s to provide not only to the person [suffering], but also family with support and guidance,” volunteer Kristen Riley said of the group’s aim.
“We’re here to help the residents, but we’re aiming to maybe branch out into the community at some stage.”
To raise awareness of the unique service provided, Emmerton Park will host a free workshop next month focusing on end-of-life care, led by former specialist physician of 20 years Michael Barbato and wife Ann, a practiced psychologist.
The discussion, taking place at Smithton District Hospital’s Community Room, is based around one of Mr Barbato’s publications which ‘looks at the invaluable contribution an amicus (friend of the dying) makes’ to one’s last days.
Many contributors to the new group have worked within the industry or been a carer at one point, able to apply skills learnt from the course to everyday life and flexible in coordinating their time to the cause around other commitments.
“Families do take a lot from the fact that their family member is not alone,” volunteer Margaret Emmett said of the service.
“They take a lot of comfort from [knowing] somebody was there. Sometimes it’s just a smile or a friendly face [needed].”
Anyone with an interest is invited to join the group, with another round of palliative care training sessions to become available later in the year.
Those wishing to attend the workshop are asked to RSVP by Friday April 3. For more information, contact Emmerton Park on 6452 9400.
What: ‘End of Life Care with Dignity and Support’
When: Friday April 10, 9.30am to 3.30pm
Where: Community Room, Smithton District Hospital