Palliative Care Australia

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Palliative Care People

Australians all over the country are making a difference to patients and families by working in palliative care. Some are clinicians, others are undertaking research to improve care and still more are doing the caring. The list below were nominees in the Inaugural National Palliative Care Australia awards.

Some of their work is outlined here:

Andre Burns, clinical nurse consultant, Brisbane Queensland

Andre Burns

Andre Burns

Making a difference: Andre’s passion for education and further study in the palliative care sector has encouraged others to grow their knowledge in the palliative care field. She is the primary trainer for Respecting Patient Choices education and has been responsible for several initiatives at Parkview to further staff development.

  • Andre introduces end of life conversations
  • Andre is the Primary trainer for Respecting Patient Choices education and trains staff to have the difficult conversations
  • Her work has added to patient and family comfort by creating and designing timber trolleys which contain reading, refreshments, CDs and DVDs
  • Andre initiated the Palliative Care Group which meets to discuss recent deaths and identifies opportunities for improvement
  • Andre was honoured with Wesley Mission Brisbane’s 2014 Award for Compassion

Felicity Hawkins, palliative medicine advanced trainee, Perth Western Australia

Felicity Hawkins

Felicity Hawkins

Making a difference: Felicity is an advocate for improved palliative care for older Australians particularly those with dementia. She employs a range of executive positions to improve the educational and professional opportunities of trainees and takes time to teach and assist with seminars and conferences promoting palliative care.

As an emerging leader in palliative care, Felicity is involved with a number of professional organisations and committees including ANZSPM and Palliative Care WA.


Michael Chapman, palliative medicine physician, Canberra Australian Capital Territory

Michael Chapman

Michael Chapman

Making a difference: Michael’s PhD research in end-of-life care and dementia will be an important resource in the palliative care field. His results show the relationship between decision making and the process of identity creation which is contributed to by both persons with dementia and those around them, regardless of the stage of their illness.  Additionally, Michael’s experience in social media and research allow him to reach a broad range of people in the sector and the community giving him the opportunity to raise awareness of palliative care and to debate issues important to the sector.

  • Provides innovative approach to furthering our understanding of the social relationship between experience of Alzheimer’s disease and decision making – new research
  • Involved with a wide range of research
  • Recognised mentor in the palliative care community
  • Actively promotes the practice of palliative care through online and social media channels
  • Engaged in a wide range of professional organisations

Fiona Runacres, palliative medicine specialist, Melbourne Victoria

Fiona Runacres

Fiona Runacres

Making a difference:  Fiona’s research in restorative care and patient outcomes resulted in the creation of the Maintenance and Independence Unit at her hospital. The unit aims to maintain functional status and improve independence for patients and enable patients admitted to the unit to reach their individual goals. She continues to advocate for restorative outcomes in other healthcare settings.

  • Discharge planning starts at the beginning of the admission rather than a ‘wait and see approach’
  • Fiona has also completed a qualitative study examining rehabilitation models in palliative care units and the attitudes of clinicians who provide this care in Australia
  • Presented her research at the Palliative Care Australia Conferences – Oral Presentation 2013 and 2015
  • Poster Presentation at the European Association of Palliative Care Conference 2014
  • Poster Presentation at the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia 2014

Echuca Regional Health, Echuca Victoria

Katherine Formica Echuca Regional Health Photo 1

Echuca Regional Health team

Making a difference: Advance care planning was introduced and implemented in Echuca by a motivated palliative care team who invested their personal time to foster collaboration between various health services.

  • In 2013, Echuca Regional Health was awarded $40,000 by the local palliative care consortium to employ a Project Officer to implement advance care planning
  • By educating hospital staff, specialists, General Practitioners, nurses and the community, the team has effected change in both the local hospitals and other health services
  • All patients admitted into community palliative care service are now provided with a comprehensive user-friendly information pack and with the opportunity to complete an advance care plan with a trained staff member.

Great Lakes Hospice Inc. Palliative Care Support Service, Forster New South Wales

Elizabeth Fisher

Elizabeth Fisher

Making a difference: The Great Lake Hospice uses the interest from the sale of a cottage along with ongoing fundraising to provide financial assistance to cover unforeseen costs of patients and carers.

  • Great Lake Hospice supports patients’ costs of personal care, domestic assistance, equipment and medications
  • The teamwork between palliative care workers and private service providers has allowed many patients to remain at home until death

Oncology Massage (OAM) Ltd., Canberra Australian Capital Territory

Oncology Massage team

Oncology Massage team

Making a difference: Oncology Massage (OM) Ltd aims to promote the integration of massage in palliative care settings through awareness raising and a nationally standardised program of training across Australia and New Zealand.

  • Qualified massage therapists and health professionals work safely with cancer patients as well as patients with other serious illnesses to reduce pain, anxiety and nausea
  • Oncology Massage uses of innovative approaches to promote the inclusion of oncology massage therapists as part of health care

Palliverse, Melbourne Victoria

Palliverse team

Palliverse team

Making a difference: Palliverse is a multidisciplinary online community that aims to bring palliative care people, ideas and funding together by harnessing the power of the internet. Led by a dedicated team from across Australia and New Zealand, key projects to-date include:

  • Blog ( – generating and sharing palliative care information, with around 13,000 views so far in 2015
  • Various social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) – broadcasting and promoting engagement (tweet chats, conference reporting, etc.)
  • Palliverse peoples database – connecting people (clinicians, researchers, consumers, policymakers, etc) with shared ideas and interests

Bear Cottage, Sydney New South Wales

Bear Cottage Team

Bear Cottage Team

Bear Cottage team

Bear Cottage team

Making a difference: Bear Cottage Children’s Hospice provides end of life care and respite for children with life limiting illnesses and their families. Bear Cottage champions innovative family support programs and team work.

  • Bear Cottage Family Support team offer innovative in house and external camps including Junior and Senior Sibling Camps and Days, Mum’s and Dad’s Camp, BootCamp and Bereaved Family Camps. All camps aim to have fun, develop new skills, improve self-esteem, foster friendships and peer support, provide respite and grief and bereavement support.
  • Feedback from the BootCamp, a six month wellness program for mothers developed by specialists in the field of diet, nutrition, exercise and emotional wellbeing, shows that at least two thirds of participants have improved their moods, fostered long lasting relationships with other mothers and have seen increased fitness levels
  • Evaluation feedback from participants, volunteers and staff is valued and incorporated into all our initiatives.
  • Our dedicated team of staff and volunteers are valued, support each other, share experiences that enable child and family focussed care.

HammondCare, Sacred Heart Health Service and Calvary Health Care, Sydney New South Wales

Left to right: HammondCare staff Cheryl Johnson, Prof Rod MacLeod and Gretel Kemp

Left to right: HammondCare staff Cheryl Johnson, Professor Rod MacLeod and Gretel Kemp

Making a difference: The Palliative Care Home Support Program is a NSW Ministry of Health  funded initiative, providing patients with greater choice to die at home by topping-up education of community care workers and evaluating service quality outcomes.

  • Packages administered by HammondCare provide practical, in-home assistance with personal care and domestic support, and allow more patients to fulfil their wish to remain at home for as long as possible
  • More than 400 care workers are now available across NSW providing coverage for 177 towns, plus full coverage across three metropolitan LHDs.
  • As part of the program, an extensive educational website has been developed, containing up-to-date information about palliative care for health professionals and the broader community.

Hall and Prior Menaville Aged Care Home, Sydney New South Wales

Hall Prior Menaville team

Hall Prior Menaville team

Making a difference: Hall & Prior Menaville Aged Care Home has set up multiple methods to ensure that the passing of patients is respectfully shared with residents, visitors and Menaville community members in order to show commitment and share grief.

  • A photo of the deceased is placed into the Menaville home display cabinet
  • A sympathy card is sent to relatives
  • A staff member attends residents’ funerals
  • Remembrance Services are held twice yearly (June & December) for past residents

Alzheimer’s Australia South Australia, Adelaide South Australia

CEO Kathryn Quintel of Alzheimer's Australia SA

CEO Kathryn Quintel of Alzheimer’s Australia SA

Making a difference: Alzheimer’s Australia SA has developed an innovative program to improve palliative care outcomes for people dying from or living with dementia. Despite being the second leading cause of death in Australia, dementia is rarely recognised as a terminal condition, resulting in many patients missing out on palliative care at the end of life.

  • Advocacy with the aged, acute and palliative care sectors to improve recognition of dementia as a terminal condition
  • Build service and clinical pathways for people dying from dementia into palliative care services
  • Capacity building to help health professionals recognise the terminal phase and provide dementia-specific palliative care
  • Individual support and linkage to people dying from dementia and their loved ones

Austin Health, Heidelberg Victoria

Making a difference: Austin Health have proactively raised awareness of palliative care and its relevance across the trajectory of illness across the hospital, resulting in more (and earlier) referrals and admissions to the palliative care unit. This should result in better outcomes for patients.

  • Creation of CLEARx Decisions project (consultant leadership in end of life care, advance care planning and Rx decisions)
  • Nearly 50 senior medical staff are end of life care champions
  • Regular forums expanded to include nursing and allied health staff and registrars
  • Educational materials on communication skills, end of life care and advance care planning made available
  • Future work: piloting of goals of care form and care of the dying observations chart

Barwon Health Palliative Care, Geelong Victoria

Barwon Health palliative care team

Barwon Health palliative care team

Barwon Health palliative care team

Barwon Health palliative care team

Making a difference: Putting a focus on the needs of carers has led to the development of a number of tools and assessments that supports families and friends acting as carers, like the Palliative Care Carers toolkit.

  • Assessment as part of continuous quality improvement practices
  • Development of innovative practice improvements with the needs of carers in mind
  • Created a standardised assessment and documentation of carer needs and developed a clear action plan to address carer needs. This is also embedded in the electronic record management system.
  • Developed and implemented an online carer’s toolkit

In addition, Barwon Health use volunteers to supplement bereavement support offered to carers.

  • They reviewed practices in response to the bereavement support standards for specialist palliative care services (2012)
  • Due to volume of patients and workload bereavement care was often not prioritised by nursing staff, despite the best of intentions
  • To ensure improvement in bereavement care volunteers were trained and supported to provide calls to carers at 4-6 weeks post death and may pay a bereavement visit to the carer
  • Resulting in improved outcomes for carers

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, Canberra Australian Capital Territory

Making a difference: Offering free palliative care training online to improve skills, confidence and expertise of all member of the multidisciplinary team

  • Four training modules launched in 2013
  • 2015 – two additional modules
  • Supporting the National Palliative Care Strategy by building and enhancing the capacity of health care workers to deliver quality palliative care
  • More than 500 people complete training each month, from 27 different countries

The Maitland Hospital, Maitland New South Wales

Making a difference: The Maitland Hospital’s Virtual Hospice offers an integrated system of tools, journals and learning experiences to deliver hospice-style care to patients, carers, health care professionals and local communities.

  • Virtual Hospice teaches about comfort, safety, hospitality, resilience and self-care
  • SPECTROMAN, a visual learning construct, symptoms and their management to all health professionals
  • Experimental learning programme (VISA and HEARTH) are tailored to specific staff groups in hospital and aged care facilities
  • A hospital COMFORT CARE PLAN has seen a 72% confidence increase in discussing end-of-life care with a medical officer

Elissa Campbell, Palliative Care Research Fellow, Perth Western Australia

Elissa Campbell

Elissa Campbell

Social media breaks down barriers between patients and clinicians and is a great way to engage the community in a discussion about palliative care says Dr Elissa Campbell who was recently nominated for the Inaugural Palliative Care Australia National emerging leader award.

Dr Campbell, a palliative care and geriatric medicine registrar in Western Australia, is using social media and a blog she helped create to spread the word about palliative care. Read more:  Social media – breaking down palliative care barriers

Clare Holland House, Canberra Australian Capital Territory

Making a difference: Clare Holland House has introduced technology, clinical records and wi fi to ensure they are treating the right person, at the right place at the right time.

  • Introduced Palcare electronic clinical record, allows one continuous clinical record and real-time documentation of the patients’ needs and care plans
  • Introduced Medchart electronic medication chart
  • Nurse Practitioner and Medical Outpatient Clinics to assess community care patients, allowing patients to maintain their independence as long as possible, but still be supported
  • Emergency medication kit developed for home based palliative care team enabling them to treat emergent symptoms once a medical order is received
  • Palliative Aged Care Consultancy successful trial of ‘integrated specialist palliative care’ within residential aged care facilities

Resthaven Aged Care, Adelaide South Australia

Making a difference: By employing a specialist Nurse Practitioner Palliative Care (NP Pall Care), Resthaven has seen an improved timely access to specialist palliative care support for its residents and clients leading to reduced presentations to hospital in their last months of life.

  • Resthaven has rolled out: The Palliative Approach Toolkit, new Advance Care Directives legislation together with completing an evaluation of the effectiveness of the role.
  • The NP Pall Care has initiated resident and family education around Advanced Care Planning, together with ongoing staff education

St John of God Palliative Care Team, Perth Western Australia

Making a difference: The palliative care team at St John of God Hospital, Subiaco (SJGHS) operate in a consultative model to provide and promote a patient-centred approach to patient care.

The team has developed hospital-wide strategies for appropriate and timely integration with palliative care which has resulted in increased referrals of up to 750 per year.

  • Manages patients with advanced disease both as inpatients and in the outpatient setting
  • Works to ensure greater access to specialist palliative care for symptom management and supportive care
  • Most patients referred to the service are receiving some form of life-prolonging treatment
  • Communication skills training for nurses to develop skills for difficult conversations in response to patient distress

Department of Palliative Care, Calvary Mater Newcastle, Newcastle New South Wales

Calvary Mater Newcastle team

Calvary Mater Newcastle team

Making a Difference: The palliative care team at Calvary Mater Newcastle partnered with Hunter Equipment Services (HES) to create a shared loan pool of basic and specialised equipment onsite at the CMN that supports the unique needs of palliative care patients, their families and carers to optimise their experience of end of life care in the home.

  • Availability of basic equipment items for loan to patients in their home has increased basic equipment items from 52% to 100% to patients in their home
  • HES supplies and maintains basic equipment allowing Calvary Mater Newcastle to purchase specialised equipment
  • The loan pool has improved productivity, reduced waste and increased revenue
  • There is more flexible in-home care
  • New partnerships in the New South Wales regions between services delivering palliative care

Read the media release here: Helping dying patients made easier

Central Australian Health Service Palliative Care Team, Alice Springs Northern Territory

Making a difference: recognising the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as they face end of life, particularly the desire to die ‘on country’. The team contributes to a stronger care journey and better care outcomes for patients.

  • Liaises with remote clinics and a range of service providers to support patients and family to be on traditional lands when they die
  • Working to overcome issues of remoteness, culture and language along with high staff turnover in nurses
  • Uses telehealth to connect health staff and patients
  • Provide education and support to remote staff and health providers
  • Ongoing liaison with oncology and chronic disease teams for patients across the remote service area.

Annmarie Hosie, Phd candidate, Sydney New South Wales

Right to left: Professor Jane Phillips and Annmarie Hosie

Left to right: Professor Jane Phillips and Annmarie Hosie

Making a difference: Annmarie’s research found one-in-five palliative care inpatients had a delirium diagnosis, while evidence-based guidelines for delirium exclude palliative care populations​, resulting in under-recognition and incomplete assessment of delirium in this patient group. Her research aims to improve outcomes for these patients.

  • Her experience as a palliative care nurse has shown her the challenges patients and their families face when experiencing delirium
  • Her research aims to find identifiable objectives to target and reduce the impact of delirium for inpatient palliative care patients.
  • ​Now that she has submitted her PhD, Annmarie plans to develop and test a non-pharmacological delirium intervention designed to reduce the impact of delirium for inpatient palliative care patients

Zoe Mitchell, senior social worker, Perth Western Australia

Zoe Mitchell

Zoe Mitchell

WA social worker named palliative care Emerging Leader

West Australian social worker Zoe Mitchell has won the inaugural Emerging Leader prize at the Palliative Care Australia Inaugural National Awards overnight. Read more


Anna Collins, PhD candidate, Melbourne Victoria

Anna Collins

Anna Collins

Emerging researcher making a difference in palliative care

A model of care supporting patients and families facing terminal illness has earned its principal research fellow the Emerging Researcher award at the inaugural Palliative Care Australia (PCA) awards. Read more

Project Hamrahi, Nedlands Western Australia

Project Hamrahi

Project Hamrahi

Australian project building palliative care capacity in India

Australian palliative care specialists working to create understanding and clinical expertise in India have been recognised in the inaugural Palliative Care Australia awards overnight. Read more

Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service Specialist Palliative Care Service, Nambour Queensland

Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service Specialist Palliative Care Service team

Teamwork a priority in award winning palliative care service

A Queensland palliative care service is delivering better patient care through good team work recognised this week in it winning the Inaugural Palliative Care Australia’s (PCA) National Award for Outstanding Teamwork. Read more



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