This innovative scholarship was awarded to Dr Sharon Ryan, Paediatric Palliative Care Staff Specialist, Paediatric Palliative Care Service (“PPCS”); Madelon Scully, PPCS Occupational Therapist, Shaun Wood, PPCS Social Worker; Amy Wethered, PPCS CNC; Jennifer Butters and the Nicholas Trust.
The program enabled regional, rural and remote families to access an in-home volunteer program. This program has been available in the Newcastle area for 3 years.
The project successfully piloted a telehealth supported in-home volunteer program.
The program reduced variation between healthcare between urban/remote areas and also the variation between what may be available for paediatric palliative care patients and their families and what may be available for adult patients. The Nicholas Trust and the PPCS has always had a focus on equity of access to services and to this end has been a District and State leader in utilisation of Telehealth.
When surveyed, at least 80% of families, volunteers and staff expressed a high level of satisfaction with the program.
For the families that have utilised the volunteers, there have been numerous benefits including reduced parent/carer stress and support for siblings.
It is anticipated the Paediatric Palliative care services throughout Australasia will adopt this model as it allows for highly responsive targeted volunteer provision.