Palliative Care NSW Volunteer Support Services Programme
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Mt Druitt Supportive and Palliative Care volunteers begin writing biographies and life stories with their clients

The Supportive Care Volunteer Service in Western Sydney Local Health District has recently expanded their service. Volunteers there are excited to now be able to offer biography or life writing to their patients. Their very first biography was completed last month.
 
Biography Coordinators Julie and Robyn from Sacred Heart Biography service came out to do the full day of training with Kylie Clark, Volunteer Manager and 5 Supportive Care volunteers.
 
A patient biography combines reminiscence, life review and legacy writing, which are then published into the written form to become permanent records of reflections, events, memories, beliefs, values, etc.  The biography service provides an opportunity for clients to record life’s stories for themselves and their families – oral histories, captured for future generations.
 
The biography can be anything the client wishes it to be: a story of one’s life, a specific time or event, a great hobby or interest, reflections, reminiscences, tributes, or a mixture of everything. With the help of a trained volunteer, the patients’ memories are recorded and the volunteer then transcribes them.  The client is always in charge of the direction and it can be a very meaningful experience to talk over life experiences and reflect on them near the end of one’s life.
 
Volunteers are trained and have all the checks required for maintaining privacy and confidentiality. They usually visit patients in their home for 6- 8 weeks for an hour at a time and develop a rapport with the patient. The experience is therapeutic and beneficial, as when patients are often very unwell for a long period they may become quite isolated, so by talking about their life experiences they regain a sense of identity and purpose to their life.
 
New Biography training will be available for interested persons in February 2019. It is a 1 day training course based on the Eastern Palliative Care program in Victoria. If you interested in this training and being a volunteer for the Biography writing program please contact Kylie Clark on 0427 730 596 or Email kylie.clark@health.nsw.gov.au
 
Patients who are receiving Supportive care services from Western Sydney Local Health District, either at home or in hospital, can be referred for the Biography writing service. Contact Kylie Clark on 0427 730 596 or Email kylie.clark@health.nsw.gov.au
 

Photo: L – R; Mary (volunteer), Julie and Robyn from Sacred Heart Biography service with Kylie Clark, Volunteer Manager (standing), and volunteers Aish, Ann and Suzan

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