Palliative care is a term that many of us feel uncomfortable with; particularly when the word is used in relation to someone we care for. Certainly, we all hope the need for palliative care never comes to our own door.
Lachlan Health Council recently hosted Bernadette Orange, Lachlan Health Service Palliative Care Clinical Nurse Specialist, to learn more about palliative care. Bernadette explained that
“Palliative care aims to improve the quality of life of those living with a life limiting illness. It includes the person’s carers, family and friends; managing both cancer and non-cancer illnesses such as end stage heart, lung, kidney and neurological diseases”.
Palliative care is a very important part of the health service. Palliative care uses a consultative model and works closely with other primary care providers such as General Practitioners and community nurses. The palliative care team provide support and coordination of care in the home, community, hospital, and residential aged care facilities in the Local Health District.
"Palliative care aims to prevent and relieve suffering by improving or maintaining quality of life,” Bernadette said.
"It is not limited to the last weeks of someone's life. Early referral to palliative care will improve quality of life for the person who is ill and their carers."
The Lachlan Health Palliative Care Service currently has two full time specialist nurses: Bernadette Orange and Ann Bunyan. Together they cover Parkes, Forbes, Condobolin, Peak Hill, Trundle, Tullamore and Tottenham. The Palliative Care Service also includes Palliative Care Volunteers, who work in conjunction with Neighbourhood Central in Parkes. These volunteers are specially trained and provide community visiting, advocacy, and education, assistance with hobbies, letter writing or preparing life stories, information and bereavement support. This service was introduced in Parkes in 2013 and it is planned to train volunteers in Forbes later this year.
"Advanced care planning is also an important part of our palliative care service," Bernadette explained.
"This involves having a discussion and perhaps documenting an advanced care directive that lets your loved ones know how you wish to be cared for in the event of a serious illness."
Your local GP or any health professional can help with Advanced Care Planning information. To find out more about Lachlan Health palliative care services, Bernadette or Ann can be contacted at either Parkes or Forbes Community Health Centres on 6850 2233 or 6861 2500.