“A Tree stands strong not by its fruit or branches, but by the depth of its roots”
Business Managers Report 2014/2015
As I sit trying to write this Report, having recently been told the devastating news my mum has an aggressive brain tumour I’m just a daughter terrified for what lies ahead for her and all of us who love her.
Life when you least expect it has a way of jumping out at you and shaking you to the core. So it did as I sat with mum in the Wesley Hospital anxiously awaiting her MRI results. Hoping for a distraction from our gloom I turned on the TV to be confronted with a Q&A episode on Palliative Care – what are the odds. Professor Deb Parker’s words filled the air “Palliative Care shifts the focus to quality of life not quantity”…. “We call palliative care low tech, high touch”. I turned it off in disgust as these words, which I’d often used myself sounded strangely hollow and trite. Despite a 15 year passion for Little Haven and being a board member of PCQ advocating for access to palliative care for all Qld’s, I wanted QUANTITY, I wanted HIGH tech and I wanted to hear the word CURE. No doubt this is the shared experience of the 206 families who’ve walked through Little Haven’s door this year.
That night, still in a rage, I opened the Little Haven website determined to change the palliative care message but was instead comforted as the first graphic loaded….. “Don’t give up – the beginning is always the hardest”. The site like our service emphasised HOPE with exerts from the well-attended talk delivered during Little Haven Week by Dr David Schlect (who coincidently is now mum’s Dr). It offered PRACTICAL HELP with symptom management, advice on coping with grief and a long list of equipment available to assist and it offered COMFORT through access to an extensive range of life affirming complementary therapies.
This is our mission and this is our message – Compassionate Care and most importantly LIVING SUPPORT because so many of our patients come to us with everything to live for and may only come to accept death in the hour it is inevitable. Reflecting on some of the heart breaking patients we have cared for this year their tenacious fight for life meant our service was there working hand in hand with the oncology team, the radiotherapists, the specialist services and the Gp as they sought every treatment available to prolong life. For how does a young mother accept leaving her children, how does the Mayor hand over his vision for our region, how does a family let go of their teenage child or a man leave the love of his life alone in this world. The value of our service was to provide all the support and comfort they needed TO LIVE …..practical, technical, clinical support and also the nurturing they needed to find peace. Our nurses provide HIGH TECH and HIGH TOUCH care.
One Friday after a long emotional day the staff were tidying up and discussing their plans for the evening when despite the late hour Len, supported by his partner, staggered through the door. We’d never met Len before, but he came en route from Brisbane to his home in Rainbow Beach, desperate for help. Newly diagnosed with glioblastoma he’d had a rapid deterioration impacting his mobility, his dignity and his dreams for his future. It would be hours before Len was sorted, washed, fresh clothes unearthed, mobility aids provided, phone calls to Doctors to sort medications, arrangements made for someone to assist get Len upstairs at home and love and reassurance provided to his partner. Around 8pm as Len left with the 24/7 support number in his partners hand It struck me there was not one word of complaint from our nurses of their disrupted evening, just raw empathy for his predicament. We as a community are incredibly lucky to have nurses who go above and beyond giving their skills and love generously, compassionately and selflessly. You’ve heard me say this before but going through what I am now I have never been more genuine or more certain of the unique nature of our care.
A priority of the committee over the past 3 years has been to provide an appropriate remuneration structure for the organisation. With an increasing demand on our services (20% this year) our ability to recruit and retain high quality staff is essential. The recent addition of Lisa and Chris onto our care team, with their deep interest and understanding of the work we do, has been a wonderful fit for the service.
The strength of our organisation is in its depth – our history, our nurses, our volunteers and our community. As the number of families we’ve cared for grow so too our roots in this community deepen.
I acknowledge the wonderful contribution of our volunteers who give and give and give without expectation. Another amazing year providing comfort to patients, assistance to the office, tirelessly raising funds for our care and adding value to our organisation. Your commitment, your reliability, your helpfulness and your hard work is noticed and appreciated and provide the nourishment for our nurses work.
I extend our gratitude to the service clubs, businesses and individual donors who’ve supported our work again this year (please refer to the back 2 pages of this booklet).
I thank Bronwyn and Narelle for everything they do to keep Little Haven running smoothly, and for the care and compassion they show to all.
The Clinical and Financial Reports reflect it’s been a successful year but it’s also been an incredibly sad year. We’ve admitted too many young patients, farewelled favourites after years of support, watched parents grieve for their child and children grieve for their parents, and we’ve shared too many illnesses and upsets affecting our own. From our President down many of our members have suffered serious illness, grief and loss this year. While there is much about Little Haven that fills our cup, the accumulated sadness we take on sits so close to the surface at times, it risks overwhelming us too.
Thank you for banding together in love and support of each other through these difficult times.
Dying Well “The baby boomers are growing old, and in the next 25 years the number of Australians who die each year will double. “People want to die comfortably at home, supported by family and friends and effective services. “A good death gives people dignity, choice and support to address their physical, personal, social and spiritual needs.” “We need the courage to promote mature discussions about a topic that many dislike, but that we cannot avoid.” From ‘Dying Well’, a 2014 Grattan Institute report by Hal Swerissen and Stephen Duckett (Swerissen and Duckett, 2014).