From visiting patients at home to providing biography services: Celebrating WSLHD’s compassionate palliative care volunteers

The Supportive and Palliative Care Volunteer Service of Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) celebrated the dedication and compassion of western Sydney’s special volunteers with an afternoon tea at the Mount Druitt Supportive and Palliative Care Unit.

WSLHD Director of Supportive and Palliative Medicine, Dr Sally Greenaway thanked volunteers for their commitment and care across the community of western Sydney.

Certificates of recognition were awarded along with special gifts of appreciation including a candle that could be burnt “in remembrance of all those they have cared for”.

Volunteers visit patients in their homes, provide biography/life story services, in addition to visiting four inpatient sites six days a week across Westmead Hospital, Auburn Hospital and Blacktown Mount Druitt Hospitals (BMDH).

The team includes an incredible 65 volunteers who provide comfort with their warmth, presence, and willingness to be with patients and families at the most challenging time of their life.

Volunteers assist the WSLHD Supportive and Palliative Care Service across many additional services, including:

  • Teaching new volunteers how to provide relaxing hand and foot massages,
  • Fundraising for patient comfort items such as memory box kits for children, diversional activities, therapy dogs and music therapy programs
  • Supporting the four memorials held across the district each year for families and friends of those who have died.

WSLHD Volunteer Manager Kylie Clark awarded eight volunteers with their five years of service certificates, acknowledging the dedication and commitment that has been shown since the service was first established in 2006.

“I was incredibly lucky to have an amazing group of people come together to establish a service that has grown to over 60 volunteers,” Kylie said.

“The volunteers all bring their unique skills and experience and I have learnt so much from them, it has been a privilege to get to know you all and to watch you grow and discover what palliative care volunteering is all about.”

My time with this ever-growing group of volunteers has instilled in me the faith that the community are more than willing to give, and as long as we are open and flexible and willing to learn from those who come to support us and the patients, we will always have volunteers willing to give their time, compassion and dedication to palliative care.

Kylie Clark