Alan Hickey,Wendy McKey, Beth Bulmer and Peter Reid from St Vincent’s palliative care unit in Lismore.
Alan Hickey,Wendy McKey, Beth Bulmer and Peter Reid from St Vincent’s palliative care unit in Lismore. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

St Vincent's offers peace to dying

THE TEAM at St Vincent's Hospital palliative care unit have been recognised as one of the best in the country, with a recent report ranking their services as second in NSW and fifth in Australia.

As part of a national program to benchmark patient outcomes, St Vincent's unit was found to provide exceptional care in clinical outcomes and symptoms relief.

"Dying is one of the most critical things that happens to us," said clinical nurse specialist Alan Hickey, who's spent more than a decade in palliative care.

"The reason why the nurses are so dedicated to making sure we do a good job is because you don't get a second chance at it."

"You've got to make sure that when that person dies, they do die comfortably, at peace, accepting of their death, and their family sees it as a good death as well."

Mr Hickey said working in the palliative care unit was a 'holistic' process which involved more than just the daily care tasks and pain management of dying patients.

"Working in palliative care you need an enormous amount of empathy and understanding," he said.

"Families want to see that the person they love is being cared for properly, and the nurses are attendant to not only the person they love, but to them as well."

"We develop attachments to patients, because they come in and out of the unit over 12 or 18 months, so we get to know their family - you become totally involved in them holistically."

"You watch a lot of grief. We have people in their twenties die here... watching a parent's grief is probably the hardest thing in the world."

Nurse unit manager Wendy McKey said the unit was driven by a team of dedicated nursing staff caring for dying people with compassion and dignity.



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