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There's a battle ahead, many battles are lost. But you'll never see the end of the road while you're travelling with me.

Neil Finn, 2000

How we can help

YOUR TEAM

Our team of palliative care specialists are experienced in providing support, answering questions and offering holistic care in your home.

Your Palliative Care Team includes: 
  • Palliative Care Nurses
  • Palliative Care Nurse Practitioners
  • Specialist Palliative Care Doctor
  • Counsellors
  • Social Workers
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Music Therapists
  • Spiritual Care Workers
  • Palliative Care Volunteers

‘…I have nothing but the highest praise for your staff and service. Nothing was ever too much bother and the caring nature of your staff was just brilliant.’

( Son and carer of a client, Jan 2017)

“I rang SEPC after hours number and spoke to a nurse. I just wanted to know that I wasn’t completely alone with what was happening”.

...From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank the staff who cared for my mother...the promptness of the service was exceptional...the nurse gave mum the dignity and respect she so very much deserved... supported the family...explained everything clearly...

Daughter and carer of a client (Nov 2016)

“I would come home [from work] and cry myself to sleep… I was a mess… I did ask for Counselling through Palliative Care South East, [the counsellor] would come to see me each week at first. She was great. She told me that grief can take years, and that everyone deals with it differently, and that people will say “I understand”, but unless you have experienced it, you cannot understand”.

"Thank you for your [the care team’s] loving manner, your professional competency was awe inspiring. You all excel at your very important service to the community."

(Family, Oct 2016)

MEDICAL AND NURSING CARE

Palliative Care Nurses

Our nurses have specialist palliative care training and are used to looking after people at home. We specialise in pain and symptom management and psychological support. Our focus is to improve your quality of life and comfort and to support your life choices.

We provide planned visits Monday to Friday with weekend visits scheduled as required.

A 24 hour on-call telephone support service is available. You can talk with our trained staff during office hours. We work with Royal District Nursing Service and Koo Wee Rup Regional Health Service to provide after-hours support – either on the phone or at home.

Palliative Care Nurse Practitioners

Nurse Practitioners are registered nurses who practice at an advanced level – they’re our Super Nurses. They have the expertise to diagnose and treat people of all ages with a variety of acute or chronic health conditions. They can interpret diagnostic tests, communicate diagnoses, prescribe essential medications and provide education, counselling and support.

Specialist Palliative Care Doctor

Your GP and specialist are still your main medical care providers. Palliative Care South East has a Palliative Care Doctor who can provide consultancy, support and advice to your GP and your care team about symptom management.


COUNSELLING

You may feel lost, confused, overwhelmed or just need to talk to someone - our counsellors provide emotional support for you and your family and carers, at all stages of your journey. Counselling may help you to learn new ways to cope with and respond to the different stages of your illness.


SOCIAL WORK

The Social Worker helps you and your family deal with the personal and social problems of illness, disability and impending death. The social worker can help by making referrals to community services (eg: financial help, home help, respite) and provides support to you and your family.

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY

The Occupational Therapist (OT) can work with you and your family or carer to help you to continue to live a full and normal life that is meaningful to you.

The OT can assist with providing practical solutions for activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, walking, eating, doing housework, leisure, etc).

They will visit you in your home and conduct an assessment. They will then suggest improvements such as:
  • changing the way you do things 
  • recommending helpful equipment 
  • energy conservation strategies

The OT also has a role in pain control through positioning, pressure relief and relaxation techniques.


MUSIC THERAPY

Our Music Therapist uses live and recorded music to help you to relax. The benefits of music therapy may include:
  • reducing pain and other symptoms
  • helping you to celebrate life and living
  • accessing memories and meaningful experiences
  • creating songs and recordings
  • learning coping strategies
  • helping you to relax

SPIRITUAL CARE

Our Spiritual Care Worker can provide spiritual support for you and your family and carer inclusive of all cultures and regardless of religious or spiritual orientation. The focus is on “being with” you and helping you think about what has meaning to you such as your joys, sorrows, pain, fears, guilt and hopes.


VOLUNTEER SUPPORT

Palliative Care Volunteers are an integral part of the Palliative Care South East team and may be involved in many different areas of your care. These may include providing you with companionship, spending time with you to allow your carer time out from the caring role, practical assistance (shopping; driving to appointments; opportunities for outings), and assisting you to develop a biography of your life through listening and recording those events that are important to you through our “Sharing My Story” program.

All of the Volunteers complete a special course in palliative care so that they can support you.


What you need to know

PLANNING AHEAD

Palliative Care South East staff are able to assist you and your family and carers with Advance Care Planning.

Advance Care Planning is a process of thinking about, talking about, and writing down your future health care preferences. An Advance Care Plan only comes into effect if you become unwell and unable to make or communicate your preferences for yourself. Information in your Advance Care Plan will guide your family and doctor when making medical treatment decisions on your behalf.

Our staff use an approach called ‘A C P in 3-steps’; a simple way for understanding and doing Advance Care Planning:

A. Appoint an Agent
Medical Enduring Power of Attorney or Person Responsible for Medical Treatment decisions

C. Chat and Communicate
Talk to your family, friends and doctors about your healthcare preferences

P. Put it on Paper
If there is something you feel strongly about


PRACTICAL MATTERS

Your Palliative Care South East team will not only provide medical and emotional support to you during your illness, but will also provide practical support to you. We have heaps of experience and knowledge and will help you when you’re unsure of what to do or who to speak with. Things such as:
  • Access to Centrelink/superannuation
  • Financial hardship due to medication costs, treatment, family emergency, etc.
  • Legal matters, e.g., Last Will & Testament, immigration, etc.
  • Home support, e.g., cleaning, shopping/hygiene care
  • Referral for an aged care assessment for a home care package/residential respite/permanent care
  • Respite arrangement for your carer
  • Advice and guidance to help you to organise long-term and short-term care at home
  • Speak with hospital staff and help to arrange your post hospital discharge care plan
  • Advocacy/support for carers in relation to workplace/school, e.g. access to carer leave, etc.
  • Referral to other relevant support agencies according to your needs.

Always remember we are here to help you and your family or carer. Simply ask one of your team. If we don’t know the answer, we will find out for you.

SYMPTOMS AND MEDICINES

Advanced illness and its treatment can leave you with unpleasant symptoms. The palliative care nurses who visit your home will help prevent, manage and resolve common symptoms that may appear. They are experts in controlling symptoms such as pain.

Don’t be too embarrassed to speak with your nurse about your symptoms. It is important to be honest when talking with your nurse. We want to help to relieve your symptoms so that you can have good quality of life.

Medical care is provided by your GP and specialist. Our medical and nursing team will work with your GP and specialists to make sure you have the best symptom management to suit your needs.

You may need palliative medications to treat and/or prevent symptoms associated with your illness. These include symptoms such as
  • pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • depression
  • shortness of breath
  • and other issues

The main benefit of these palliative medications is to improve the quality of your life. Our medical and nursing team will explain the need for these medications to you and your family or carer. We will help you to get these medications to use at home.


EMOTIONAL CHALLENGES

You have been told that you have a life threatening illness….. You may be in shock…… You may feel like you’re on a roller coaster….. You may feel numb……..There are many different emotions that you might feel and that's OK. Everyone reacts differently to being told that they have a life threatening illness. Some of the feelings you may experience are:

Emotional
Anxiety, shock, fear, anger, sadness, irritability, numbness, depression, helplessness, hopelessness, despair, acceptance.

Mental
Disbelief, confusion, worry, self judgement, preoccupation with illness or death, regrets.

Physical
Breathlessness, lack of energy, dizziness, muscle weakness, over-sensitivity to noise, hollowness in the stomach, tightness in the chest, tightness in the throat, dry mouth.

Behavioural
Crying, restlessness, appetite loss, social withdrawal, sleep disturbance, absentmindedness, vivid dreams.

Palliative Care South East has many different services to help you – you can talk with our Counsellors, Social Workers, Spiritual Care Worker or our trained Volunteers. You can also work with our Music Therapist to express your feelings through music.

We are here to help you. Talk to us when we visit or call us on 03 5991 1300 at any time.


METHODS TO COPE

Many people think that they are going through this experience alone. But you’re not. Talk with your family and friends when you feel you can. We are here too. Contact Palliative Care South East to talk with us about your emotional challenges. Our experienced team are here to help.

Some helpful tips are listed here:
  • Write your feelings on paper or in a diary in order to express them outwardly
  • Use drawing, painting or music to bring expression to your feelings
  • Talk to your loved one, a trusted friend or a counsellor to express and understand your feelings or concerns
  • Learn meditation or breathing techniques to calm your mind, heart and body
  • Draw on your religious or spiritual beliefs and practices to cope with your feelings
  • Put time aside to reflect on your thoughts and feelings
  • Spend time in nature or a quiet space
  • Read books/articles that you are interested in
  • Allow yourself to be helped and supported by others both physically and emotionally
  • Know that it is ok to set some boundaries around your time
  • Be involved in your own decision making as much as you can
  • Create some small goals for yourself to work towards that are achievable