In-home hospice volunteers at the ready

SERVING THE COMMUNITY: 20 graduates became the first cohort of trained palliative care volunteers in Mount Gambier.

The Mount Gambier In Home Hospice Care service celebrated the graduation of its first group of trained palliative care volunteers last week at the Mount Gambier Community RSL.

The 20 volunteers took part in a nine-week course with Warrnambool hospice trainers and Flinders University staff, via Zoom.

While the volunteers do not provide medical care or advice, they work closely with health professionals to provide patients with practical and emotional support, addressing their individual needs and preferences.

In Home Hospice Care chair Maureen Klintberg, said the volunteer service fulfilled the not-for-profit’s commitment to provide terminally ill patients – together with their families and carers – the option of practical, holistic care, in the comfort of their home.

“The In Home Hospice Care service will help fill the gaps and further build on the existing services that are already provided in our community, to those facing a life-threatening illness,” she said.

The new service also reflects In Home Hospice Care’s advocacy of Compassionate Communities, a relatively new concept in public health approaches to end of life care and bereavement.

“The concept of Compassionate Communities is being widely advocated and involves the activation of community members to care for each other,” Ms Klintberg said.

Palliative Care Projects nursing director Kate Swetenham reinforced the twin message of emotional in-home support and compassionate community.

“Volunteers that have undergone this training have a genuine opportunity to provide psychosocial symptom management, where the emphasis of the support is around human connection and the development of a compassionate community,” she said.

Data collected by the Warrnambool Community District Hospice management team over the past five years shows the number of clients wishing to die in their own home grew from around 15pc to 50pc.

Mount Gambier Private Hospital chief executive Sandi Elliott has managed the project, supported by the private hospital board members and a steering committee.

In Home Hospice Care is a community organisation which relies on donations and government funding.

Visit or contact Maureen Klintberg on 0438 010 780 for more information.