Providing palliative and education

5 Questions With . . . Central Otago Community Hospice community care co-ordinator Christine Pacey

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Q: What is your background?

Research tells us that 75% of people would prefer to stay in their own home for end-of-life care. We are, therefore, trying to bring the hospice service into the home. QWhat is your background?

I am an occupational therapist who spent many years working in the community on housing modifications, pain management and brain injury rehabilitation, before having a personal experience of looking after someone close to me with a life-limiting illness and realising how hard it is for both patients and carers living in rural communities.

I therefore started working for Otago Community Hospice seven years ago and in that time attended Canterbury University to gain my master’s in palliative care.

I work in a team of four based in Central Otago. We have three care co-ordinators and one nurse practitioner.

Our two medical specialist doctors travel through once a fortnight and visit people in their own home and liaise with GPs, oncologist, local hospitals and nursing homes.

Q: Why do we need more people trained in palliative care?

A big part of our job is making sure symptoms are well managed, because when people feel well they get on with living their lives.

A lot of people are worried or scared when they get referred to hospice as they think we might take them away or hasten death.

Of course, this is not the case.

It is important to remember that palliative care is not about a building, it is a philosophy of care. Palliation means to alleviate symptoms.

Research tells us that 75% of people would prefer to stay in their own home for end-of-life care. We are, therefore, trying to bring the hospice service into the home.

Q: What is the latest initiative happening between Hospice Southland and Otago Community Hospice?

In 2018, we started working in partnership with Hospice Southland since patients from Queenstown were travelling to Dunstan Hospital for scans, chemotherapy and outpatient appointments.

This means our team now covers the whole of the Wakatipu Basin as well as Central Otago.

While working with patients and their families is one of our primary roles, the other is providing education to other health professionals.

Q: Who is encouraged to take part in this initiative?

This year will be the first time both Southland Hospice and Otago Hospice join forces to provide both Syringe Driver Training to nurses in March and October and “fundamentals of palliative care” to any health professional or nursing home, or rest-home carer.

Q: What will it involve?

The fundamentals of palliative care runs over five sessions from March to May and covers topics such as: the essence of palliative care, pain and symptom management, chronic illness, dementia, ethics, spirituality, loss and grief, communication and caring for ourselves.

Statistics New Zealand are predicting that in 20-30 years’ time our older persons population will quadruple, so it is important to share in education since not every patient comes on to the hospice programme, many people are managed by community health professionals or aged residential care. Anyone wanting to participate can contact Otago Hospice on (03)473-6005 to enrol.

  • Workshops will take place at the Cromwell and District’s Presbyterian Church, Cromwell, on March 13 and 27, April 3 and 17 and May 1.