The NSW Palliative Care Volunteer Conference 2023 served as an enlightening platform uniting passionate individuals devoted to the palliative care community. Recently, Lyn Hearfield and Mary-Anne Kitchen, two of our dedicated volunteers at PCACT, had the incredible opportunity to partake in this event. Their experience and the insights gathered offer a window into the transformational power of knowledge, empathy, and continual learning within the realm of palliative care.
Their journey through the conference was a full of learning and discovery. Engaging in various sessions and workshops, Lyn & Mary-Anne explored crucial aspects of palliative care. Workshops such as “Understanding Dementia” by Aged Care Clinical Nurse Consultant Steve Swan provided invaluable insights into the multifaceted nature of dementia. This session unveiled the complexities of dementia, emphasizing the importance of alternative communication strategies to reduce anxiety and ensure comprehensive support for individuals affected by this condition.
The keynote address by Theresa Plane, a distinguished figure with over 40 years of experience in palliative care, profoundly impacted Lyn. Theresa’s emphasis on listening with an open heart and learning from the experiences of the dying resonated deeply. Her insights highlighted the necessity for comprehensive training and the importance of selecting the right individuals for palliative care. The emphasis on the multidisciplinary team’s role, open communication, and ongoing bereavement care for families highlighted the depth and complexity of support required in this field.
Sessions such as “Embrace Stress to Defeat it” by Carrie Wallace were equally impactful. Understanding stress as a natural reaction to life events and the importance of managing stress through self-care, positive self-talk, and healthy lifestyle choices resonated with Lyn as pivotal components of effective care provision.
Discussions surrounding Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) in NSW were thought-provoking, shedding light on the considerations and deliberative approach involved in this sensitive aspect of end-of-life care.
Practical breakout sessions provided avenues to explore diverse perspectives. Engaging with tools like virtual reality headsets for enriching patient experiences, therapeutic practices like hand massages, and the soothing melodies of the reverie harp illuminated the myriad approaches available to enhance the quality of life for individuals in palliative care settings.
Lyn and Mary-Anne’s takeaways from the conference highlight the significance of embracing diverse perspectives, continuous learning, and the power of empathy in the palliative care journey. Their commitment to furthering their knowledge and skill set showcases a dedication to providing the best possible care for those in need.
Lyn and Mary-Anne’s experience is a testament to the values of PCACT and our commitment to fostering continuous growth and learning within our community. We commend their dedication and eagerly anticipate the positive impact their newfound insights will have on the care they provide to individuals and families in need.