Sue Dykes heads up the palliative care volunteer team with Northwest Care based out of Northwest Church in Tamworth.
Northwest Care introduced palliative care volunteers in 2016 to support the work of the local Community Palliative Care Team under CNC Jonathon Gourlay.
Prior to commencement of the volunteer service Jonathon and his team identified (in a 2014 National Standards Assessment Program (NSAP) report) that they felt that they could be doing better in the way that they were addressing the needs of carers.
It was soon afterwards that the new volunteer service began at Northwest Care.
Sue has been involved in Northwest Care since their inception in January 2016.
“About that time a person from the community asked our General Manager if we could offer domestic support to a palliative care patient at home. And then soon afterwards Jonathon (Gourlay) asked if we would be interested in putting together a small group of people to support people in palliative care and their families in the community. So the palliative care volunteer group was born.”
Currently there are about 20 volunteers actively involved with the service. The volunteers typically offer social support and respite, but may also undertake light domestic support and assistance with travel into the community if or when needed. Support is offered within the local Tamworth area.
“Often the person in palliative care just wants another person to come into the house, another person to talk to.”
Sue was recently Chairperson of an organisation that offered support to people in aged care and to people with disabilities, so has good insights into the needs of the Tamworth community and into service governance.
“After each visit our volunteers email or message me to confirm the visit and to note any highlights or concerns. I keep a database and if I feel something needs to be flagged then I can contact the Palliative Care team.”
Thanks to the pastoral care resources within Northwest Church the volunteers also have ready access to ongoing debriefing and support for the roles that they perform.
Sue attended the inaugural Palliative Care Managers Conference (7-8 May 2018) thanks to support from the NSW Network of Managers of Palliative Care Volunteer Services.
Pic: Sue Dykes at the recent managers conference at Coolangatta Estate.