Palliative Care NSW Volunteer Support Services Programme
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New biography service in the works for the Hastings

Jo Denny, Palliative Care Bereavement Counsellor from Mid North Coast Local Health District Community Palliative Care and Molly Warrener, Social Work student from Charles Sturt University have been working hard to get a palliative care biography service up and running in the Hastings.

Jo completed the biography manager training provided by Palliative Care NSW and Sacred Heart Biography Service earlier this year and now thanks to a generous grant from The Hastings Cancer Trust she will be able to purchase the start-up equipment necessary and begin training volunteers for the program.

The Life Matters biography program was awarded the prestigious Allman Award, named in honour of long-time Cancer Trust supporters Betty and John Allman, at a ceremony on November 14.

“The biography program will be a free service for people receiving community palliative care through the Local Health District (LHD),” Jo said.

“It will provide individuals living with a life-limiting illness the opportunity to review and record their life stories with a trained volunteer.

“Volunteers will conduct interviews to author the biographies, which will be printed and bound by the LHD.

“Clients will be presented with their completed biography, or it will be presented to a nominated family member or friend.

“Every person is unique, and each biography will be an individual representation of their life in whatever style they choose.

“It may be filled with recipes, stories, advice, song lyrics or photos,” she said.

“For parents with young children, multiple books can be provided for different age appropriate versions.”

Ms Denny said the biography would become a legacy item for family which maintains their enduring connection with their loved one and can provide comfort for their grief.

The process of completing a biography has been shown to improve psychological and spiritual well-being for people at end-of-life, as it provides an opportunity to reminisce, make meaning, and maintain hope.

The program will benefit not only individuals living with a life-limiting illness, but also their carers, families, friends, and community, Ms Denny said.

It will also provide an opportunity for volunteers to engage in meaningful, profound, and rewarding societal contributions, as well as learn new skills and apply transferable existing skills.

“We are immensely grateful to the Hastings Cancer Trust and the Allman family for the support and interest in the Life Matters volunteer biography program,” she said.

“The grant will be used for the purchase of equipment to establish the program, such as digital voice recorders and binding equipment, as well as recruiting and training the first group of volunteer biographers.

“It was an unexpected honour on the night to also receive the Betty and John Allman Award.”

Donations to the Hastings Cancer Trust directly benefit the local community as every dollar raised contributes to programs such as Life Matters, making a difference for people living with cancer.

Read the full story here in The Port Macquarie News.

If you are interested in becoming a palliative care volunteer biographer, please click here.

PHOTO: L-R Community Palliative Care’s Jo Denny, The Westport Club’s Jenny Edmunds and Molly Warrener, a social work student from Charles Sturt University. (Port News)

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