I am a registered nurse with twenty years’ experience working in a rural, regional community cancer care and palliative service. I also have personal experience of caring for my terminally ill father as a single mum at home until his death.
Rural areas do not have the same access to specialist palliative care and other support services (nurses, equipment, hospices, funding) that exist in metropolitan areas. There are added challenges of distance and isolation, leading to issues of responsiveness and the ability for people to die at home if that is their choice.
Through my experience of caring for my dad, I realised how truly exhausting it was providing 24-hour care on my own. I felt a strong sense of isolation as the clock ticked over to 4.30 pm on a Friday and I realised I was pretty much on my own until Monday. I recall longing for validation of the care I was providing and condition of my father. I found myself questioning why I was discovering what I expected so many other carers to do, so challenging. At the end of my dad’s life, I had a negative experience trying to implement his Advance Care Directive.
For these reasons, I am passionate about:
- services available and provided in rural areas and the need for innovative, responsive models of care and funding
- carer support and
- ensuring services focus on whether an Advance Care Plan (or equivalent) has been honoured, not just whether it exists as a measure of quality.
I am committed to lifelong learning. Four years ago, in pursuit of improving my understanding of mental health assessment (skills I felt I lacked but consider essential in a palliative care assessment), I moved to Canberra to complete a Graduate Diploma of Mental Health. I also have a Masters in Health Management Quality and Safety and a strong passion for providing evidence-based quality care. I now live in Canberra, working in a role that allows me to follow my passion, but I still wanted to maintain my connection with the palliative care sector. I wanted to find a way to be involved with and contribute to the continual improvement of the sector.