Elanne Thompson coordinates the Palliative Care Volunteer service in the historic town of Berry in the Shoalhaven area.
The service has many long-term volunteers in its ranks and is not short of new-comers. “We don’t usually advertise, people come to us because Karinya, our Palliative Care Unit and our Community Palliative Care Team are held in such high regard in the community”, said Elanne. Significantly, about 30% of their volunteers are now-retired clinicians or have an aged care/disability service background.
The service is well supported by the Karinya Palliative Care service. For acting Nurse Unit Manager (NUM) Ben Dootson it is his first experience with volunteers since moving into Palliative Care from a Critical Care background.
“It works really well, the relationship between the staff and volunteers”, said Ben. “It’s not necessarily a formal arrangement but it’s an accepted part of patient care that the volunteers are likely to get involved.”
Inpatient volunteers interact with staff directly, and a weekly meeting of community staff considers which of their patients could benefit from volunteer support at home.
The other Palliative Care Volunteer service in the Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD is managed by Cynzia DeiCont at Port Kembla, and creating consistency and sharing support is something that the managers in Berry and Port Kembla are working on.
“We are planning to share training for volunteers, and to share expertise for training”, Elanne said. “We’re trying to be more planned in our training so that we can promote fixed dates to people who enquire about volunteering.”
Berry is a good example of a volunteer service well supported by the clinical team and embedded in the day-to-day clinical care of patients.
From Left to Right:
Elanne Thompson, Volunteer Coordinator
Ben Dootson, Acting NUM Karinya Unit
Kay Cox, Palliative Care Clinical Nurse