Photo: Central West Hospital and Health Service Acting General Manager Primary Health Care Jen Williams.

No one much likes to talk about it but end of life is something that every single one of us will experience, both personally and with loved ones.

For Longreach’s Roach family, when husband and father Brian died in April, he was able to pass away peacefully and surrounded by family, cared for at home by wife Ellen and daughter Jocelyn with expert and compassionate support from the Central West Hospital and Health Service’s palliative care team.

“Now that Brian has gone, being able to care for him at home really helped me from that point onward,’’ Mrs Roach said.

“We felt far more in control here at home.

“It was really important for me once he actually passed away to be able to do things like make sure he was dressed as this was my last peaceful memory of him.

“Things like that really helped me in those difficult times.’’

Thanks to the Central West Health palliative care team, all aspects of Mr Roach’s care at home during the final five months of his life was carefully organised and coordinated.

“Having palliative care enabled us to also keep living our lives,’’ Mrs Roach said.

“We had great input into setting up the plan. We had Home and Community Care early in the day, and then the Anglicare team came in after noon.

“The Central West palliative care team organised the tasks, timings and routines and funding from different sources.

“They were flexible and adaptable as our tasks changed during each day, and as my husband’s care changed.

“It is successful because there are multiple groups involved, all with a priority to support the whole family.’’

Mrs Roach and her family were referred to the Central West Health palliative care team through their doctor.

“The team, Sally Carson, Anouk Jaaniste and Irene Scott would come by weekly at first, and then monthly as we settled into our home care routine,’’ Mrs Roach said.

“But they were always only a phone call away if we needed something.

“They supplied all of the care products we needed, we got help with the bed, which was adjustable, then things changed so we needed different bed equipment, it allowed us to get support really quickly.

“The palliative care team came to the house, the doctor came often, and there were phone calls.

“The different groups were really responsive to the level and range of my husband’s care, they were willing to find solutions to every complex issue.

“The care was beautiful, we didn’t feel anxious about the type of care we would be able to provide at home. It was easier on the whole family.

“We would recommend the palliative care service to anyone.’’

Central West Hospital and Health Service Acting General Manager Primary Health Care Jen Williams said the health service was committed to ensuring people at the end stages of life, for whatever reason, received the compassionate care they needed and to delivering that care in the most appropriate setting.

“Palliative care services are provided to improve the quality of life of people with an active, progressive disease for which there is little or no prospect of a cure,’’ Ms Williams said.

“They are a very important component of the health services we deliver across our region.

“Here in the Central West, we have a full-time Clinical Nurse working in the Palliative Care Coordinator role.

“Our Palliative Care Coordinator provides services to patients who wish to receive palliative care at their local hospital and/or in their local community ­– which may be an aged care or flexible care facility, or in their own home.

“We have three dedicated palliative care beds available – one each in the Blackall, Barcaldine and Winton hospitals – and can accommodate more if needed.

“While Longreach Hospital does not have specifically earmarked palliative care beds, palliative care patients can be accommodated as and when required in an appropriate setting.

“Our health service also works closely with specialist palliative care units at metropolitan hospitals to ensure we meet the needs of clients locally.

“Some palliative care patients may be required to travel away for symptom management, such as radiation therapy for pain management, which is not available locally – but other than such cases, we can provide appropriate care within our region, thereby reducing the burden on families at what is always a stressful and deeply private time.’’

  • If you are interested in learning more about the Central West Health Palliative Care Service, speak to your doctor or phone Community Health on 4652 5500.