Palliative care boost welcomed

Pleased: Jennifer Creal.

Pleased: Jennifer Creal.

A DUNGOG woman whose husband lost his painful battle with throat cancer has welcomed news the NSW Government will provide an additional $100 million in funding for palliative care services.

Jennifer Creal has called the funding an “incredibly encouraging step in the right direction,” having witnessed how the lack of palliative care services in the Hunter Region can affect the terminally ill and their families. 

Mrs Creal became aware of how under-funded and under-resourced palliative care was in the region when her late husband, Christopher, struggled with crippling pain in the late stages of throat cancer.

“Our oncologist suggested we should start to concentrate on quality of life, not quantity,” Mrs Creal said.

“We were referred to the local palliative care service in Maitland, and they were going to come and assess him. But after a week, I was having trouble managing his pain at home with what I had available.

“It’s very difficult, and you have to be a little bit careful about what to give.”

But Mrs Creal said the Maitland palliative care service was “overwhelmed” with demand.

“We were admitted to Dungog Hospital, which has a little palliative care room – which is amazing and the staff are fantastic – but we would have liked to have been at home. It would have been nicer for us all if he’d been at home.”

Mrs Creal said people were afraid of the term “palliative care,” but she encouraged anyone with a life-limiting illness, even if it was not immediately terminal, to seek advice on palliative care.

It could make all the difference to the last years, months and days of someone’s life.

“It can make people’s lives so much better, even if you can just control the pain,” she said.

The Cancer Council said the budget commitment would see an increase in the number of palliative care nurses and funding for 24-hour community care services. Hunter manager, Shayne Connell, agreed it was a great first step.

“When someone has a terminal illness, they deserve the best possible care and support, whenever and wherever it’s needed,” he said.

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