Mount Druitt Supportive and Palliative Care Unit hosted its inaugural Palliative Care Community Forum at the Novotel Rooty Hill on May 24.
More than 60 community members and workers attended to learn more about palliative care and hear from an expert panel.
Dr Philip Lee hosted the forum while the panel featured Dr Sally Greenaway, Alex Hunter from Palliative Care NSW, Wendy Pavlek (social worker) and Deborah Maclaren (nurse practitioner), who answered a variety of questions and shared personal experiences.
The key message was that palliative care was for the living – enabling people with life-limiting illnesses to live life as fully and comfortably as possible.
Palliative care identifies and treat symptoms holistically, covering physical, emotional, spiritual and social issues.
The referral process and how to access appropriate care was also discussed, along with the services that are available in western Sydney.
Dr Lee asked a curly question of the panel: “what is hope? A lot of oncologists look at hope as another line of treatment. What do you define as hope from a palliative care perspective?”
Dr Greenaway replied: “people say there is nothing you can do. There is always something that can be done. No, we can’t cure your illness, but we can make you comfortable to ensure you are pain free, address your symptoms, look at things from a social perspective and provide support. That is giving hope. Hope is something that people need to maintain. It is supporting what the individual and their family want to do.”
Palliative Care NSW representative Alex Hunter discussed the importance of volunteers; there are 1600 palliative care volunteers in NSW who dedicate their time to supporting those going through the final stages of their journey.
“There is an increasing demand for volunteers and they do such an important job,” he said.
Dr Greenaway summed up the forum quite uniquely: “it’s about the living before the dying; there’s a lot of living to do”.
Attendees were encouraged to have that “difficult conversation” and make advanced care plans, before enjoying refreshments and networking with the panel and palliative care staff.
Hosted during National Palliative Care week, the Mount Druitt Supportive and Palliative Care unit hope to make the forum an annual event.
Our thanks to Palliative Care NSW, Palliative Care Australia and Concept 33 at Rooty Hill RSL for their support.