Perth woman Carmela Yom-Tov, who suffers from terminal blood cancer, didn’t know what to expect when she was released from hospital early last year to receive palliative care in her home.

“I was diagnosed with Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia – a very rare but serious form of Lymphoma,” the 74-year-old said.

“The prognosis wasn’t good. I was discharged from hospital after a few weeks, and the same day I got a phone call from a Silver Chain’s palliative care service.

“The nurse, social worker and doctor came to my house – it was unbelievable. Since then I have had a nurse visit every week or second week, but if I needed them to come immediately, they would.”

A clinical psychologist for over 45 years, Dr Yom-Tov has lived a remarkable life. Born in South Africa, she and husband of 50 years, Zvi, lived in Israel, Spain, India and Canada, before settling in Perth.

“We have lived in this house for 21 years and thanks to the care of Silver Chain, I can continue to receive care here and be with my husband,” the grandmother-of-two said.

“I am still mobile, so there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be at home – where I am comfortable and in a place I know, rather than a foreign place I don’t. Being home also means friends can drop in when I am feeling up to it, and I can sit on the veranda and watch the beautiful park in front of me. Home is where our lives are.”

Carmela’s story highlights the importance of professional at-home care in the lead up to National Palliative Care Week, May 23-29.

“The care I receive from Silver Chain is absolutely unbelievable,” Dr Yom-Tov said. “I want to praise them (the nurses), they make everything as easy as possible. If I need medication, the nurse will ask the doctor to give me a prescription, then give it to the chemist and the chemist will deliver. They are professional, compassionate and immediate – I want to tell everyone just how lucky we are to have access to this service.

Silver Chain delivers in-home palliative care services to 7,000 Australian every year through its palliative care team of more than 500 staff across South Australia and Western Australia for the past 40 years, and in New South Wales for more than three years. In WA alone, there were close to 4000 clients cared for by 240 staff in the past year.

Silver Chain’s WA Hospice Care Service provides specialist palliative care services across the Perth metropolitan area for people with a life-limiting illness or condition. The palliative care team consists of nurses, doctors, care aides, social workers, counsellors and spiritual care workers.

Silver Chain’s WA Executive Director Ms Renae Lavell said the organisation’s palliative care team enables clients to maximise their time with their loved ones while minimising the physical and emotional stress that clients and those close to them may experience.

“Our approach to palliative care ensures that every part of a client’s wellbeing is understood, and their needs are respected and fulfilled including medical care, physical symptoms as well as their spiritual needs,” Ms Lavell said.

“National Palliative Care Week is not only a time to recognise the amazing contribution that family members make to helping Australians receive end-of-life care at home, but also the relentless and tireless effort of our staff.

“Study after study has shown us that receiving quality care in our own homes benefits the individual and has macro-economic benefits with demonstrable community health and wellbeing outcomes.

“Our own research demonstrates that 75 per cent of Australians are somewhat or very likely to use in-home care for themselves or a loved one.

“Through RDNS and the Silver Chain Group, we will continue to advocate for greater access to palliative care services in the home. We believe Australians have earned the right to better health and aged care in the home,” Ms Lavell said.