Northeast Health Wangaratta’s Community Palliative Care Team has been hugely impacted upon by COVID-19, in fact as a result of COVID the Northeast of Victoria had no palliative care volunteers for 2 years.
Intense COVID-19 restrictions introduced
Intense restrictions were introduced in Victoria on 18 March 2020 which would be the very first attempt at limiting the spread of COVID. As we all experienced these restrictions, our community patients were told that they no longer could have their family and friends visit them. Those community palliative patients that had no family or friends had a palliative care volunteer and they were no longer able to visit or support them. For the past 2 years, our team of community palliative care nurses, family care coordinator and social worker attempted to fill this gap of the volunteers whilst trying to deliver the highest level of care to our community patients in their time of need. Needless to say the volunteers were missed.
Keeping everyone safe
Constant conversations with managers, infection control personnel and executive members of Northeast Health Wangaratta (NHW) over the past 2 years highlighting the needs of our vulnerable patients occurred. We had to grapple with keeping everyone COVID free whilst wanting to have our volunteers back supporting our patients.
Successful return of some volunteers
After much conversation with infection control personnel, advocating for the needs of our patients and highlighting that some of our volunteers are willing to wear N95 masks, we were able to re-introduce a limited number of volunteers back.
Whilst this is welcomed news and we are very happy to have our volunteers able to support our community once again, the impact of having an extended time away from volunteering has meant that many of our volunteers have some hesitation and trepidation with regard to coming back. Thus, there is much work still to be done.
Enquiries about volunteering with Northeast Health Wangaratta’s Community Palliative Care, should be directed to:
Palliative Care Social Worker
Phone 03 5772 5184 or