HELPING HAND: Volunteers for Palliative Care Kate Punch, Gwen Teasdale and Virginia Milne. Picture: MARINA NEILMaitland’s Volunteers for Palliative Care is in desperate need of help.
Operating for almost 26 years the NSW Health funded organisation is short on volunteers and desperately needs more helpers to care for the 20 patients the organisation has on its books.
Volunteers are needed to provide transport for patients, help them attend treatments and medical appointments, provide home respite or companionship or to visit patients in hospital.
Those interested are put through a training course and commitment in time is established on an individual basis at the time of their training.
The organisation’s coordinator Judith Robinson said it takes a special kind of person to carry out this work.
“They have to be non-judgmental, patient and a very good listener,” Ms Robinson said.
The group currently has 25 volunteers but needs many more.
“It’s better to have a pool of volunteers who are ready so we cantap into them straight away when the need arises.”
She said there is usually a natural attrition rate with volunteers as some have to bow out with family commitments, going back to work or becoming carers themselves for a family member.
All volunteers will have a criminal check carried out. They will also be put through a training program. On completion they will be “buddied up” with a patient and then start.
“We connect the volunteers with families and make sure they are a good fit,” Ms Robinson said.
Ms Robinson said there can be some fears and misunderstandings about what palliative care means.
“We discuss this thoroughly withvolunteers and talk about all their fears. It’s a wonderful training program and it’s essential,” she said.
“Predominantly most of the work ourvolunteers do are in patients’ homes.This work is not aboutsitting with someone who is dying, it’s about supporting someone to the end of the life. They have dreams, wishes and desires and we are there to listen to them.”
Anyone interested in helping the organisation shouldcall 49366582.
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