When Joy McGregor lost her husband, and then her sister-in-law, to illness she was left wondering.
“I watched the experiences both of these people went through and thought we didn’t handle it as well as we might,” she said.
“I wanted to learn how to do it better.”
For Ms McGregor, “doing it better” has led her to volunteer with the Wagga Palliative Care Service.
She has been with the service for three years and has just experienced the death of a client who had been with her for that whole time.
“It was a very rewarding experience to have shared all that time with him,” Ms McGregor said, while also acknowledging the sadness that comes with losing someone she considered a friend.
Palliative care volunteers are not involved in any personal care of their clients. Instead, they help with everyday chores such as shopping or getting to doctor’s appointments.
“We share a lot of experiences with our clients, and we get to know the families, and are there to talk to them too," Ms McGregor said.
Carmel Neason has been a volunteer for more than a decade after initially became involved at the instigation of a friend.
“I am very privileged to be able to spend some time with people at the end of their life,” Ms Neason said.
Spending two or three hours a week as a volunteer is not, Ms Neason said, a huge commitment of time.
Shirley Flanigan is becoming a volunteer to give a little bit back, but also with the memory of her own mother’s experiences with palliative care to spur her one.
A nurse who actually worked in palliative care, Ms Flanigan is keen to use her working knowledge to make clients’ experiences as positive as possible.
The Wagga Palliative Care Service is currently looking for more volunteers, ahead of a training course starting in June.
Palliative Care social worker and volunteer manager Jane Waters said volunteers provide compassionate support to individuals and their families who are facing a life-threatening illness.
“The goal of the palliative care volunteer service is to assist the individual and family during this difficult time, with the focus both on daily living and quality of life in the time remaining, and support to those who are grieving,” Ms Waters said.
The training course for volunteers includes reading 10 modules and attending two face-to-face training days in July and August
Ms Waters said the service is particularly keen to hear from men who may like to become volunteers.
“This is a great opportunity to make a very positive contribution to the community by helping our community members in need during the challenges they face at the end of their lives.”
Anyone interested in becoming volunteers can contact Ms Waters on 6938 6403 before June 1st.
Pic: Joy McGregor, Carmel Neason and Shirley Flanigan are palliative care volunteers ( credit The Daily Advertiser).