Maggie Barnewall oversees the activity of the Clarence Valley Palliative Care Volunteer Support Service which is managed by Grafton based CRANES Community Support Programs, a non-government organisation well known and respected for its work in the Clarence Valley.
Maggie works closely with the local Community Nursing Service Palliative Care team, through Palliative Care CNC, Acting, Petra Quante. “A big part of the effectiveness of the volunteer service is thanks to the close working relationship we have with Petra and the Palliative Care team”, said Maggie. Petra plays a large role in Palliative Care volunteer training and the nursing team provides referrals to Maggie for volunteers when need is identified. The Palliative Care service area is the Clarence Valley LGA from Iluka in the north to Halfway Creek in the south, all within the Northern NSW Local Health District.
Volunteers conduct home visits to people in Palliative Care providing respite for carers, as well as practical and emotional support.
“There is a significant retired and aged population in towns such as Yamba and Iluka, and we are seeing many of these people on the Palliative Care register,” said Maggie. “In terms of roles for our volunteers, our primary request is for home visits for carer respite. However, our volunteers also help shopping, transport and looking after the Palliative Care equipment”.
CRANES has ‘Dandelion’ Palliative Care cottage in Ulmarra. It is available for people in Palliative Care to use for end of life accommodation, or for respite from their usual place of residence.
The cottage is unstaffed but residents are visited by Community Nurses and volunteers. It has provided a cosy home environment when people have needed an alternative to their living arrangements or a break away from home.
Is there the possibility of a community hospice in Grafton? “We are hoping to undertake a community needs assessment in the near future,” says Petra, “and we will seek support from the community for volunteers to undertake that activity”.
The Clarence Valley Palliative Care Volunteer Support Service is a great example of a healthy working relationship between the local health service and a non government community support organisation and the local community.
Pic: Maggie Barnewall, Manager, Clarence Valley Palliative Care Volunteer Support Service (left) and Petra Quante, Clinical Nurse Consultant Palliative Care – Acting