Three years ago my partner asked me to deliver a gift to Carolyn, a friend of hers who was a patient at the Otago Community Hospice. Although I lived only a couple of streets away, I had never entered the building or given it much thought. I assumed it was a very sad place full of people dying of cancer.
Little did I know that within a few months I would be working at the Hospice as Operations Manager. My superficial and narrow understanding of what they did was quickly corrected as I discovered what a wonderful service it is, and how special is the team of staff and volunteers who work there and provide specialist palliative care.
Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early intervention and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psycho-social and spiritual.” (WHO definition 2002)