Sarah recently took up the role of Convenor of the NSW Network of Managers of Palliative Care Volunteer Services. She spent a couple of minutes talking with us about her day job.
VolunteerHub: You’ve been managing the palliative care volunteers at Westmead Children’s hospital for about 2 years now. Do you feel like you’ve made a difference?
Sarah: I think my volunteers make a difference to families every week. I guess you could look at the number of volunteers in the service, which has grown from about 6 to about 30 over that time, and it’s true we have more volunteers working with more referrals. But numbers don’t tell the whole story. It’s really the feedback that we get from volunteers, families and the team that paints a picture of what we are doing well, and I often hear amazing stories that demonstrate the significant difference the volunteers are making in the lives of our families.
VolunteerHub: So is the service is supportive of the volunteer effort?
Sarah: Oh yes, we have a great level of support within the service. The team not only support, but are huge believers in the volunteer service as they have witnessed the difference they make. They love to have the volunteer program to offer to parents. Just from talking to colleagues I realise that this isn’t the case in all volunteer services. We also have good policies and the strong structure and governance of the hospital that helps support the management of volunteers.
VolunteerHub: Potter is a famous name in compassionate care – Mary Potter Hospice in Adelaide, Mary Potter Hospice in Wellington (NZ), Mary Potter Nursing Home in Ryde. Any relation?
Sarah: No. Most people associate “Potter” more with Harry…..
VolunteerHub: Read any good books lately?
Sarah: I have just finished reading ‘The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy which was beautifully written and one of those books that is a mix of tragic and funny and lingers a bit after you have read it. I’ve now started ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue which I believe has been made into a movie to be released soon. I’ve watched the movie ‘Joy’ which I liked and ‘Suffragette’ is next on my hit list.
VolunteerHub: Are there any challenges you’d like to take-on over the next couple of years?
Sarah: Our volunteers travel to families all over the western Sydney area, but one of our challenges is meeting the needs of people further afield in Western and regional NSW. Finding a way of having volunteer support to families in those areas is something I would like to tackle.
Pic: Sarah (second from R) with Paula Duncan (R) and two of her Westmead Children’s palliative care volunteers at the recent Centre for Volunteering Awards ceremony.