“THE response to this initiative has been so strong! It seems people have been hoping for something like this for a while.”
Local resident Judy Hollingworth is speaking on the interest the community has shown in her campaign to create a community-support group to meet the growing need for palliative care services for Manning Valley residents.
“All the health care and community groups and clubs I’ve approached have been keen to spread the word of the upcoming meeting,” Judy said.
It will be held next Tuesday, August 4 at 6pm at Club Taree and will include expert speakers Dr Colin Rose, a Taree GP who has long supported palliative-care patients carers and teams, and Dr Yvonne McMaster, a retired palliative specialist from Sydney and tireless campaigner for properly-resourced palliative services in regional NSW.
Greater Taree City mayor Paul Hogan will open the meeting, which will discuss how a community group could support Manning Valley’s healthcare professionals, carers and community as they look after an increasing number of people living with incurable illnesses.
Judy has had two personal experiences with those in need of palliative care services.
“My family and I have had wonderful experiences with palliative services. Palliative care makes such a difference to every life it touches,” said Judy.
"My family and I have had wonderful experiences with palliative services. Palliative care makes such a difference to every life it touches"- Judy Hollingworth
“While quality care is provided by the dedicated Manning Valley professionals, hospitals and community health team, increasing numbers of people affected by incurable illness – and their carers – need greater access to palliative care and earlier, in many cases. The sooner they get it, the sooner their quality of life improves.
“Most people who suffer from an incurable illness want to stay at home, but it can be hard to keep care going at home. Carers give so much that from time to time they need some respite to keep going.
“Some people are wondering if a longer term objective of the group should be to push for a dedicated hospice and dedicated palliative care beds in the district.”
Short-terms goals including advocating, fundraising and providing much-needed equipment. This can make it possible for patients to remain at home and also assist carers with heavier tasks.
Judy hopes the community group will find ways to assist professionals and volunteers to meet those needs.
The idea has been inspired by the concerns of palliative nurses for their patients and carers, the significant achievements of the Great Lakes Hospice community group in Forster, and by Dr Yvonne McMaster’s “Push for Palliative” groups that are being set up by volunteers like Judy throughout regional NSW.
President of the Great Lakes Hospice Elizabeth Fisher OAM will also be speaking at the event.
The Great Lakes Hospice have numerous fundraising events throughout the year for palliative care. The most recent being the Boona Street garage sale which was held in June and raised around $2500.
Elizabeth and Judy are hoping the groups will be able to work together to deliver better outcomes for the two areas.
Local palliative care clinical nurse consultant Trish Lowe said a local group in the Manning Valley will make a “big difference” to the area.
Judy is a certified palliative care volunteer with the local district of Hunter New England Health, and is also assisting with research into Advanced Care Planning being undertaken by the School of Medicine at the University of Newcastle.