My Volunteer Role in Palliative Care – By Corrine Brown
As part of the National Volunteer Week 2019, Palliative Care Victoria has put together a section in their website to acknowledge their volunteers by highlighting each of their stories. I am one of these volunteers and here is my short story …….
“Volunteering provides me with a sense of sharing unconditional love with my brothers and sisters. There is great satisfaction that I am able to share my gifts, knowledge and expertise; and to witness the profound benefits. I have a sense of purpose, a belonging in the wider community, a greater understanding, awareness and appreciation of life.
Volunteering to me is about giving and receiving. There is always balance. As a volunteer, I am the honorary visitor, privileged to hold a safe space for the patients without judgement. The gratification I receive with my giving are beyond words. There are no words. There need not be any words. Bless”…………… Corrine Brown
I have been providing Palliative Care services as a volunteer at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre – the Southern Hemisphere’s largest, independent specialist oncology centre for 13 years (since 2006). Prior to this, my 3 years in voluntary community services was in the Teens Ward at Princess Margaret Hospital in Western Australia.
Hand on heart, I honestly believe I am the person today shaped by my life experiences from my professional services offered as a volunteer. These environments are my classrooms.
Volunteering is like a gift that keeps on giving.
The rewards keep on coming.
The lessons never stop.
I observe, I learn, I listen, I respect, I witness, I honour, I share, I reflect, I hold space
I am respected, I am honoured, I am important, I am loved, I am required
My stories and experiences are many and amazing, from working with patients in the Chemo Day Unit, in the Wards, in Intensive Care Unit, as well as a unique opportunity with a coma patient. Unconditional and non-judgemental spiritual bonds are made with patients from all walks of life, race, sex and culture. Life sure is a mixed box of chocolates!
I offer my array of Complementary Therapies that support conventional medicine. Many patients are aware of this form of natural pain relief support and look forward to having these treatments. It makes being in a hospital environment and getting through their ordeal more bearable and comfortable.
Some Of The Many Miracles I Have Witnessed
- Immediate reduced oedema
- More mobility, strength, circulation and flexibility
- Sensations felt even during sessions when patients experienced peripheral neuropathy or were paralysed from waist down
- Bowel movements opened when patients had been constipated for days
- Sense of calm, peace and rest when patients have not been able to relax or sleep
- Lowered blood pressure during treatment (nursing staff had to do another monitor later on)
- Sense of acceptance and trust when patients were anxious and fearful
- Sense of connection and openness as a bond is established
- More smiles
- Sometimes more tears as patients feel they can just be
……….. the list goes on …………
So What Is Palliative Care You Might Ask?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines Palliative Care as:
“An approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.”
Simply put, Palliative Care is specialised medical care for anyone with life limiting illnesses. The Team delivers effective and compassionate care whilst providing emotional, social , cultural and spiritual support to patients and their family members with the primary focus of bringing relief to patients’ pain and symptoms; and ultimately with the goal of improving quality of life whilst meeting their needs.
Whilst patients at the end of life have greater needs for Palliative Care services, patients at other stages of serious illness can also benefit. Palliative Care can be given at the same time as other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Palliative Care treatment can be given in the home, hospital, local community health clinics, care facility or hospice.
For detailed information, visit https://www.pallcarevic.asn.au/families-patients/
Mainstream Medical Care Vs Palliative Care
- The purpose of traditional mainstream medical care is to find a cure and/or to heal an illness.
- The main goal of Palliative Care is to ease pain and prevent suffering associated with an illness, making them as comfortable as possible. The Team helps patients and families understand the disease and available treatment options. They also facilitate open communication to discuss any practical or emotional concerns that come with a diagnosis of the serious illness.