A/Professor Richard Chye, Director of Palliative Care, shares the following story:
I was a young medical student in my 20s when I had to tell my 46 year-old father he was dying from kidney cancer. The grief was overwhelming. But as a family we were determined to find the best possible care for the few months he had left. I know how important it is to have the best care, while being treated with dignity and respect, and that’s why I am proud to be working at St Vincent’s.
Sacred Heart Hospice was founded by the Sisters of Charity in 1890 as Australia’s first hospice and part of St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney. For nearly 130 years, a team of dedicated and incredibly passionate staff have delivered the mission of the Sisters by helping terminally ill patients and providing end of life services for them, their families and carers.
We’ve come a long way since 1890. Today we provide palliative and supportive care services to inpatients, we operate a 24-hour community and outpatient consultative service in eastern Sydney, community and respite programs and a day activity centre. Around 1,500 people each year are cared for by St Vincent’s palliative care, both at the hospital and in the community. And we reach further afield, with palliative medical outreach clinics serving Wagga Wagga, Albury and Orange.
Here at St Vincent’s, we pride ourselves on the individual, compassionate care we provide to every person, their family and friends. Palliative care isn’t high-tech – it’s about the personal touch, taking the time to care for each person, understanding their experiences and sharing their stories.
Everyone has a story to tell. People derive great joy from telling their stories and a biography is an important affirmation of the value of each person’s life. At St Vincent’s we’ve found that this has become an integral part of our palliative care.
Our dedicated biography volunteers spend time with patients and their families, hearing their stories and sharing their memories – fascinating, funny and sometimes heartbreaking.
The volunteers create a book of each person’s life, sometimes rounding out the story with further online research. They include photographs and illustrations, and bind the finished story into a volume that provides a lasting memory for families and friends. Families tell us how much the service means to them, and we see all the time what a difference it can make when someone can share their memories in such a positive way.
It’s heavily reliant on volunteers but there are real costs involved in training them, producing the books and keeping up with demand. As we approach the end of the financial year, I am writing to you today to ask you to contribute to the continuation of this important and worthwhile service.
I’m fortunate that I have wonderful memories of my father. Here at St Vincent’s, we want to ensure that as many people as possible can have their special stories and memories preserved for those who have loved them. Please make your end of tax year contribution before 30 June 2018. I thank you in advance for your support.