Cancer Council NSW and local campaigners want people to join the I Care for Palliative Care campaign.
They’re calling on the NSW Minister for Health to end the shortage of specialist palliative care services across the state.
Speaking in Wauchope, Tim Chapman from Cancer Council NSW said currently, there are not enough palliative care doctors and nurses to meet the needs of the NSW community.
“NSW needs 10 more full time palliative care physicians, at a minimum, to be brought in line with national recommendations and 129 more full time palliative care nurses to bring us up to the standard of the rest of Australia,” he said.
The council also wants culturally appropriate palliative care for Aboriginal people.
They say that when someone has a terminal illness, they should be able to keep doing the things they love for as long as possible, and that families should be able to make the most of the time they have left.
“We know that the current palliative care doctors and nurses do a wonderful job, but they are stretched to meet demands across the state,” he added.
One campaigner from Lake Cathie said her partner was terminally ill and wished to die at home, and the palliative care team made that possible.
“She was diagnosed with Stage Four lung cancer. She wasn’t afraid to die, but she wanted to be at home around the garden she loved, with her children and grandchildren, and her books and familiar things around her.
“The palliative care team organised the things she needed, like a walking frame, and they organised her pain management really well. They were just awesome. You couldn’t do it without them.
“What they gave my partner and the family was dignity,” she said.
Judy Hollingworth’s campaign, Manning Valley Push for Palliative raises community awareness about the issue, advocates better resourcing, and a range of support services, as well as ancillary palliative resources.
As a palliative care volunteer, she helps people through the difficult time as their life is ending, giving them companionship, and she is on the board of Palliative Care Australia.
“We want to have occupational therapists, physiotherapists, grief counsellors who can come and help the person live in the community, rather than go into hospital which can be hugely depersonalising.
“It’s a hugely vulnerable time for the person who is ill, their carers and the professionals who come in,” said Judy, who cared for her sister while she was dying.
Community members across the Hastings region can support the I Care for Palliative Care campaign by signing the pledge for Minister Hazzard to end the palliative care shortage. Go to www.canact.com.au/palliative_care_pledge