I Am Living

Aged care service provider Silverchain is calling for volunteers off the back of National Volunteer Week, particularly in the northern suburbs, to provide support for palliative care clients.

Wally Kewley was diagnosed with brain cancer in February 2023 just as he and wife Jackie were making plans for an overseas trip, before numerous rounds of chemotherapy led to him being placed on a home-based palliative care plan two months later.

Silverchain also offered the Gosnells couple volunteer care as additional support through Tarja Abbott, who started volunteering as a way to give back to the community during her retirement.

“After Tarja’s first visit, I quickly realised what a huge difference that little bit of extra care made for me and Wally,” Ms Kewley said.

“Once a fortnight, I used the time for all sorts of things, whether it’s going to the hairdresser, running errands or catching up with friends. I’ve really loved having the service provided to us.”

Before Mr Kewley died in March this year at the age of 79, he shared how much he enjoyed having some extra company and giving his wife some much-deserved “her time”.

“Tarja and I will have a coffee and chat about different things or just enjoy watching a movie,” he said. “She tells me interesting things about her home in Finland, which is one of the countries we visited during a Baltic cruise.”

Ms Abbott is part of Silverchain’s valued group of volunteers who provide support for palliative care clients through social support and companionship, food shopping, taking clients on outings, as well as providing respite for carers.

Silverchain’s volunteer resources manager Lily Meszaros said volunteers get the chance to make a significant difference to the lives of clients and their families, such as the Kewleys.

“Volunteers such as Tarja can make such a valuable contribution to the quality of life for people living with advanced, progressive or life-limiting illness as well as providing respite for their carers” Ms Meszaros said.

“Sometimes it can just be as simple as sitting down for a chat over a cup of tea or a coffee and a wagon wheel, which was Wally’s favourite.

“As a volunteer with our palliative care clients, you’re part of a compassionate team of people that includes nurses, doctors, social workers, spiritual care workers and care aides.”

By Erick Lopez