Heather Pirie’s role as CNS in the community nursing team gives her a great insight into the opportunities for Palliative Care volunteers to support people at home.
Her dual role as CNS and Volunteer Manager is on the one hand a great benefit for her clients in Palliative Care, and on the other hand a challenge to fit into her ever-day work-life.
Not that she minds. “The volunteers are so valuable to the work we do. Community visiting volunteers are another layer of support to people who might be isolated or unstable at home.”
Based at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus, Heather oversees the work of about 20 Palliative Care volunteers across the greater Coffs Harbour area. Volunteers are involved in community visiting as well as inpatient support at the nearby North Coast Cancer Institute.
“The dynamics of each group are very different. I am more directly involved with the community visiting volunteers, whereas the volunteers who work in oncology are managed by the staff there on a day-to-day basis.”
Heather has been in the role for 4 years and sees opportunities to expand the volunteer service. “Probably the greatest limitation is my availability, and to organise recruitment and training can be time consuming.” A sentiment shared by other part-time volunteer managers around the state.
The Coffs Harbour service is part of the Mid-North Coast Local Health District and includes Nambucca and Bellingen to the south.