Mother of five uses her experience to help others

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Mother of five uses her experience to help others

The death of two sons has inspired Justine Betteridge to provide end-of-life care.

After losing two of her five children within five years, Justine Betteridge has decided to use her experience to help others and is now volunteering as part of HammondCare’s Palliative Care Home Support (PCHS) team.

Ms Betteridge lost sons Jack and Tom to Sanfilippo Syndrome - a rare, severe and devastating neuro-degenerative disease in 2008 and 2013. She is a single mother to surviving children Sophie, Ben and Amy.

“Some of my friends could not believe I was choosing a vocation that had caused me so much emotional pain and stress in the past. However, I felt I had so much to contribute in this area. And after going through such extremes in my life, it was about finding something that had meaning. My role is meaningful and rewarding,” she said.

Her sons, Jack and Tom, have been the inspiration behind her passion.

"For me, the worst time of my life, was made as good as it possibly could be by an exemplary palliative care team. To now be part of a team that supports a person in need and their family during this complex and arduous time, is a privilege."

Her role provides end-of-life care to a person in their home and supporting the family. Her job involves personal care, documentation, monitoring pain and keeping the person as comfortable as possible during a time when they are often immobile.

“My goal is to provide an exceptional level of care to every person and to relieve some of the pressure on the family, who at times can be overwhelmed by the intensity and constancy of providing round the clock care.”

Ms Betteridge says her life experience has taught her about the importance of palliative care and given her a deep understanding of how stressful it can be for the family at this time.

“People are not very good at talking about dying and death. Unfortunately, it is still a taboo subject, even though it is something that will happen to us all. Hopefully people will become more comfortable in discussing this topic, so there can be more planning during end-of-life care.”

She hopes to do much more in the palliative care field in the future.