It’s all about living, not dying
Since Canberra’s Clare Holland House opened almost 20 years ago, Fr Bill Kennedy has visited almost every day.
COVID restrictions have now brought the 90-year-old’s chaplaincy to an end but what stood out for him was the mix of those he ministered to at the hospice.
It was people of all ages, he said.
He also witnessed the important role faith played for many in their final stages, which also allowed for families to derive some consolation from the comfort it brought to their loved ones.
“It was very, very important for the families,” Fr Kennedy said.
Fr Kennedy was one of many at the grassroots of those caring for people with a life-threatening illness.
It is the 30th anniversary of Palliative Care Australia, the peak body that represents all those who provide care in the sector.
CEO Camilla Rowland says the emphasis is on quality of life for people through managing pain and symptoms.
Care can involve an integrated or holistic mix of specialist or general support involving doctors, nurses, allied health, pastoral care, social workers and volunteers.
Palliative Care… it’s more than you think! was the title of a recent PCA advertising campaign that sought to address common misconceptions that palliative care is mostly for the frail and elderly in their last days.
A recent Australian Catholic University study highlighted that, while the numbers were small compared to older groups, hospitalisations for children under 15 had increased by more than 10 per cent each year since 2011-12.
The study also showed that despite the increasing need for palliative care there was a shortfall in specialist doctors practising in the area.
Camilla Rowland agrees that more needs to done and she welcomed the Commonwealth’s recent $58 million budget commitment to building capacity.
Much has already been done and she commends Catholic palliative health providers for their strong commitment to patient and family welfare.
For her, personally, Camilla saw the importance of high-quality care when she was part of an integrated palliative team in rural Australia.
“We had all those elements of a specialist palliative care team and we could see it was the holistic support that was important for both the patient and their family,” she said.
In the Canberra/Goulburn archdiocese the Catholic Voice has heard stories that highlight the compassionate and committed standard of care that is available locally.
“We were all treated like family,” one person said of her experience at Clare Holland House.
“Even after mum had passed the staff stayed in touch with the rest of the family for weeks to come.”
“The support was very beautiful,” she said.