2017 National Palliative Care Award winners… where are they now? Peter Jenkin

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2017 National Palliative Care Award winners… where are they now? Peter Jenkin

In 2017  Peter Jenkin, Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner: Aged Care at Resthaven Adelaide was awarded the National Palliative Care Award for ‘Excellence in Palliative Care in an Aged Care Setting’.  As part of our "Where are they now" series we asked Peter some questions about his work and perspectives on palliative care in aged care settings.

You received Palliative Care Australia’s ‘Excellence in Palliative Care in an Aged Care Setting’ Award in 2017. What did winning the award mean to you?

 It was humbling to have my peers provide affirmation of my efforts developing an ‘in-house’ specialist Nurse Practitioner role and an innovative model of palliative and end of life care in aged care. Receiving the award has given me more of a voice nationally in both palliative and aged care sectors, to advocate for improvements in care for older persons and their families.

Can you tell us where you are currently working and/or your current career focus?

For the last eight years I have worked at Resthaven, a large South Australian, not for profit aged care provider. It’s been the most enjoyable and rewarding role of my 28-year nursing career.

My primary career focus continues to be provision of ‘in-house’ specialist palliative care in residential and community aged care settings. However, I’m also involved nationally in policy and service development across aged care and palliative care sectors. I teach postgrad students in an aged care & palliative care topic at Flinders Uni, and the prospect of doing a PhD is something that has been on my mind for some time.

What do you most enjoy about your role?

It’s the ability to make a positive difference in the lives of older Australians, and their families, as they reach the end of their lives. My current role allows me to work to the full scope of practice of a Nurse Practitioner, whether that be negotiating goals of care, clinical symptom management or helping to allay psychosocial distress.

What goals would you like to see for the future of palliative care in Australia?

As our population continues to age over the next 20-30 years, that palliative care is a seen as a national health priority and funded as such. Where people who are receiving palliative care are able to actively engage in decisions regarding their care and that it is less ‘siloed’ than health care is now.
That palliative care actually becomes ‘everyone’s business’, based on need rather than diagnosis, and not something that is only done by specialists, or just at the very end of life. That palliative care is not considered to be the opposite, or alternative to voluntary assisted dying.

What advice do you have for other palliative care professionals thinking about working in aged care?

Do it! But be humble… Don’t assume as a specialist in palliative care that you are the only ‘expert’. Most of us have come from predominately cancer-based services with clients who do not have significant cognitive impairments. Take the time to consider the differing needs of older persons with chronic illnesses and frailty.

Are you attending 19OPCC – if so, what sessions are you most looking forward to?

Yes I am. My initial postgrad qualifications are in primary health care, so I’m especially looking forward to the plenary and panel discussions on human rights and social determinants of health. I also don’t want to miss ‘Living, ageing and dying with Dementia’ on the Friday.

View this video below that Peter filmed with PCA last year to discover what makes his work at Resthaven in South Australia so special.