Palliative Care South East has shared the following volunteer story with COTA:
‘As a volunteer (name withheld) with Palliative Care South East, I am always a little anxious when I approach the house of a new client for the first time: I really want to be the right person to join the challenging and unique situation within and to have the confidence just to be myself.
In contrast, there is often a heightened focus on the client’s illness and even their nearest and dearest can become mired in the reality of them dying. It is a privilege to make a small contribution to the life of someone by encouraging a positive approach to life – chatting about anything and everything which often includes the client sharing their most personal feelings and recollections. And that is what I love to offer: a focus on living.
I spent each Monday and Tuesday with Harry* over a three month period so his partner could have a break. His brain tumour limited his communication substantially but he always pushed himself to his limits, even if it was only one or two words at a time. In my 22 or so visits, he was only able to spend one day out with me. He was a really good photographer, so we had a great time at the Cranbourne Botanic Gardens taking photos. Usually we watched morning TV, chatted about his sporting teams, lamented the state of politics and laughed together as we mocked reality TV shows and three-minute advertisements selling waist belts that shock your abs into shape!
I said goodbye to Harry yesterday as his partner stays with him in his final days. Every client I have met has given me so much; they entrust me with some valuable time. I am inspired by how they face the closing of their lives with acceptance, bravery and dignity.’