Published on: November 29, 2019

Dr. Saima Furqan, Regional Programme Officer for Pallium India, writes:

As part of a learning exchange program initiated by the three amazing palliative care nurses Sandra Hawkins, Toni Coleman and Sarah Beghley, I got an opportunity to visit Australia for 2 weeks. The trip gave me a glimpse into how palliative care works in Australia. Sandra, Toni and Sarah are members of Project Hamrahi, which is a collaboration between Pallium India and Australasian Palliative Link International (APLI).

They are community palliative care nurses at Wagga Wagga, a small, beautiful town in New South Wales. Interestingly, there is no Palliative Care Physician in Wagga and the palliative care program is entirely run by nurses. This made me realize the crucial role nurses play in providing the best palliative care service to the community.

During my stay, I met wonderful palliative care professionals including a nurse practitioner, Jenny Mckenzie, who is authorized to prescribe morphine, a very senior Palliative Care Physician Dr. Kennedy from Sydney who visits The Calvary Hospital in Wagga once a week, Dr. Brian, another Palliative Care Physician at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and several others.

I also visited a beautiful hospice as well as aged care center in Wagga Wagga and interacted with some of the patients at home. This was another eye-opener for me which gave me the opportunity to learn and understand the care of patients suffering from cancer and non-cancer diseases such as MND, CKD etc through Palliative Care.

Sandra and Toni were kind enough to arrange my talk at two of the best rotary clubs in Wagga Wagga. These two rotary clubs (Kooringal and Wollundry) are perfect examples of how a responsible community could help in improving the quality of life of the society. I spoke about Pallium India’s work in India and the need for palliative care which immediately motivated them to offer their support to Pallium India in whichever way possible.

Moving forward, I hope to utilize the support and learnings to improve palliative care services in India.