Kerry, Palliative Care Volunteer

I worked for many years in the public health system both in hospitals and community settings. One of the things I enjoyed most was visiting people in their homes. This constantly reminded me that I was dealing with a person not just an illness. When I was looking for some volunteer work I came across the Calvary HealthCare Kogarah volunteer website. This sounded right up my alley so I applied, completed the training and joined the team. After spending a few months in the hospital I was asked if I would like to join the community palliative care volunteer team. So for the last six years I have once again had the opportunity to visit people in their homes.

Over this time I have had the privilege of being welcomed into many homes and sharing people’s lives for a little while each week.  We chat, sharing stories of the comings and goings of the past week. Sometimes I get to hear about people’s past while I give them a massage. Other times we may just sit in companionable silence.  During the massage people sometimes fall asleep, which in other social settings I might be worried about as an indication of my lack of stimulating conversation but in this setting I am glad to be able to bring them some peace and relaxation.

In the last few years I have mostly visited young people with MND. While this is a terrible illness I am constantly amazed at the strength and resilience of the people with the illness and their families and carers – families with young children, couples with just each other ensuring that their loved one with MND can participate as fully as possible in life.

I know volunteers say it all the time but I truly do get more that I give in these interactions. It is a constant reminder to take time to cherish the people around us. It is these relationships that bring the greatest joy. So although very sad when the people I visit die I have wonderful memories of all the times we shared.


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