A memory that’s stayed with Janet Phillips from her time working as a palliative home-care nurse more than a decade ago is when one of her patients wanted to be well enough to go fishing again with his mate. A simple thing like going fishing takes on a whole new meaning when it might be the last time. “I said, ‘OK, let’s get you to the point where you can do that’. And we did. It’s those moments that are so rewarding,” says Janet.
Late last year Janet was appointed CEO of Peninsula Home Hospice, a role she’s delighted to be in. “I’ve worked in the health sector for over 35 years, starting out nursing in hospitals, then as a breast cancer support nurse and for over a decade as a community palliative care clinical nurse consultant, then on to management roles. I’ve always been drawn to community health care, and the thing that really struck me about this particular service is its really close connection to the community; we have lots of wonderful volunteers and great fundraising auxiliaries and committees.”
With her wealth of experience, Janet understands first hand the needs of patients, and the challenges and rewards practitioners in this space face. From a personal point of view, Janet’s experience nursing her mum through pancreatic cancer gave her insight into family needs too.
Peninsula Home Hospice is a not-for-profit specialist community palliative care organisation that provides support services so that people with life-limiting illnesses, their carers and families are able to receive the support they need in their own home. There’s a wide range of services available, including counselling, education, palliative care physician, music therapy, art therapy, nursing, occupational therapy, spiritual care, and client care volunteers. “A new program we’ve started is a general practitioner special interest group, where GPs can come together, share ideas and debrief as well as meet our staff, and to build clinical skills and knowledge of palliative care.
“People think palliative care is just about cancer. It’s not. Or that once you’re in palliative care, you have a short time to live. That’s not always the case either. We support people with a range of illnesses: motor neurone disease, heart issues, respiratory illnesses, kidney and renal illnesses. We can support people sometimes for one or two years. They come to us with a chronic illness that’s unstable, then they stabilise and are discharged from the service as they don’t require specialist palliative care anymore. If they become symptomatic or develop palliative care issues, they can easily get in touch with our service to be readmitted. There’s lots of assumptions about what we do. We’re not about death; we’re about living and having the best quality of life. And people always say, ‘We wish we came to you earlier’. Research shows that people live longer and have better quality of life when palliative care is engaged early.”
To find out more about Peninsula Home Hospice, call 5973 2400.