Living the good life takes a lot of care

PALLIATIVE care specialist Dr Joanne Doran has revealed three key points to living a good life - take pleasure in small things, surround yourself with good people and help others.

Dr Doran gave the advice to health care workers and families who had been touched by the work she and others do with terminally-ill patients through the Palliative Care Unit at St Vincent's Hospital, Lismore.

She was speaking at a function organised as part of Palliative Care Week which Dr Doran said was important in raising community awareness about issues they face every day.

"Death and dying is just not sexy. We live in a death-denying society, but the majority of our work is about living," she said. "What we do is try to bring order into the chaos. For many families it is their first experience with death and it has become increasingly a medical process where people are hospitalised. What we try to bring is support and safety."

The Palliative Care Unit is a partnership between the hospital and the North Coast Area Health Service and is the only one between Newcastle and the Queensland border.

Yesterday, a new 24-hour phone support service for carers and patients was launched. The number is 1800 086 522.

The function also paid tribute to Jenny McFarlane, who was essential in establishing a pilot service in 1985 and worked there as a clinical nurse consultant for 22 years before retiring last year.

"The satisfaction comes from going to  homes when there is chaos and offering people support and pain relief, watching people die as free from pain as possible, as mentally prepared as possible and dying with dignity."

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