Palliative Care NSW Volunteer Support Services Programme
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More stories to tell

Late last year you may have seen the article on this site regarding the Sacred Heart Community Palliative Care Biography Service (Telling their stories)

After seeing the presentation from the Biography Service at the recent NSW Palliative Care Conference, I knew a meeting would be essential. As well as an overview of the service, we were treated to presentations from individual volunteers on some of the stories produced. Today I met with the service managers responsible for setting up the service; Julie Gissing and Robyn Swanson.

In 2009, Sacred Heart at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney were only too happy to have the Biography Service begin. Those approaching  end of life are given the opportunity to share their story, pass on important information and offer a tribute. Volunteer biographers are being placed across the Sacred Heart Community Health district to listen, record and transcribe client stories culminating in a published work for loved ones.

Julie says; ‘As volunteers, we both started out by training at Eastern Palliative care in Melbourne, which was the only Palliative Care Biography service in Australia at the time.’ The Biography Volunteer Manager’s role has now become a full-time (shared) role at Sacred Heart for the pair this year. Julie and Robyn are now training other managers and coordinators to get the service into other areas.

I was given the chance to look more closely at examples of the printed versions of some stories and clearly, these are works of great love and care. There are even works that have been created as children’s books, beautifully illustrated and presented.

Another round of training for any volunteer manager interested in instigating a service within their health care setting will be on offer soon. Please register your interest by using the online form at the right of this screen.

Pic: Julie Gissing and Robyn Swanson

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