Adelaide woman Jenna Crierie was in and out of hospital for the better part of a decade, ever since she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 22. But towards the end of her cancer battle, Jenna was able to find comfort in being cared for at her own home, surrounded by her doting family.
Remarking on a life cut tragically short at just 33 last October, Jenna’s mother Diane Crierie said she was grateful she could spend almost 18 months at home, thanks to the palliative care service provided by RDNS, a part of the Silver Chain Group.
Jenna’s end-of-life story of compassionate care highlights the importance of professional at-home care in the lead up to National Palliative Care Week, May 23-29.
“Jenna was very keen to stay at home in her environment,” Diane said. “She was attached to it. She loved spending time with the pets and her sister, who she was very close to. She also got to spend valuable time with her little niece and nephew,” Diane said.
Diane said that the RNDS nurses not only provided high-level care for Jenna, but also much-needed respite for herself as her main carer.
“We had her room set up with a hospital bed and all the equipment she needed,” Diane said.
“The nurses would come in once a day – usually for an hour or so – to administer medication and check everything was okay. This is when I would nip out to the shops as I didn’t want to leave Jenna alone.”
The Hove grandmother of two said the RDNS nurses even went the extra mile to enable Jenna to go on a beach holiday with her family.
“We went away for a weekend to Hardwicke Bay on the Yorke Peninsula and the RDNS nurses liaised with the local health service so that Jenna had the support she needed while she was away. The RDNS nurses were always very caring and willing to listen if we had any concerns, but going that extra mile was really kind,” she said.
With the help of the RDNS Palliative Care Service, Jenna was able to be cared for at home until two months before her final days, when she transferred to the Laurel Hospice.
RDNS 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.
RDNS’s Palliative Care Service provides specialist palliative care services across Adelaide for people with a life-limiting illness or condition. The palliative care team consists of nurses, clinical nurse consultants and care aides.
RDNS Executive Director Ms Siegi Schmidmaier 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 Schmidmaier 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 Schmidmaier said.