President’s Report

President’s Report 2022/23

It gives me great pleasure to bring my report to you for this year. It has been a bitter sweet year for us with the death of some of our keenest supporters. Sadly Rob Fisher, Margie Nelson and Margaret Astle passed away.

Rob was a past president, long-time member of the Management Committee and contributed greatly to the establishment of Great Lakes Hospice now known as Great Lakes Palliative Care Support. His guidance and support was imperative to his wife Elizabeth, and together with their team they formed and nurtured an amazing community service that continues on after nearly 35 years.

Margie Nelson, as did her parents, supported our organisation well. She was our archivist for many years and only resigned when ill health made it impossible for her to continue.

Margaret Astle only with our organisation for a short time, spent many hours counting money at the bucket drop and supporting me as best she could. I am grateful for the lives and service of these wonderful people.

This year has been challenging on a number of fronts. The decision to close the Charity Shop in Tuncurry was not an easy one for many of our members, however it became necessary as it was not a viable option with the costs involved in keeping it open. Cost of rent, electricity and finding enough helpers to keep it going became issues that had to be addressed. We like all voluntary organisations are facing challenging times as our volunteers become older and ill health has an impact on their ability to contribute. We were able to donate all our usable excess goods to other organisations, very little was taken to the tip. All winter wear was given to the Community Kitchen and distributed to the homeless and needy people of our community. We plan to have our first garage sale at Rodmay St in November.

Despite this we have remained extremely busy, with fundraising events, community education and spreading the word that palliative care is much more than just about dying, it’s about living well until we die. We have had the opportunity to support our wonderful Community Palliative Care team as well as the Oncology and Nursing staff of Forster Private Hospital. We have been able to enhance the services that are offered at one of the most challenging times for the patient, families and carers of this area, as well as outlying areas such as Gloucester, Hawks Nest and Bulahdelah.

End of Life packages that are available are limited and we continue to provide top up services to enable folk to be at home if that is at all possible. We have provided domestic services and personal care through brokering to Mid Coast Assist. To give you some idea for the month of July 22 we provided 29 occasions of service for 2 patients at a cost of $1541.42, April this year 25 occasions of service were provided for 6 patients at a cost of $2279. For last month 64 occasions of service were provided for 8 patients at a cost of $4884.48. These services are so important for those caring for family members at end of life, when nothing else is available. Our service provision does mean patients can stay at home longer or until their death if that is their wish.

Our equipment service remains in constant use with the storage premises in Rodmay St Tuncurry being accessed by the nurses, occupational therapists as well as Kevin our Equipment Officer. The loan of equipment means that patients can be cared for safely in their place of residence. We provide a pickup and delivery service and loan equipment at no cost to the patient. Equipment is also provided to allow patients to be discharged from hospital. All equipment is maintained, serviced and cleaned by Kevin. My sincere thanks for all that you do and the support you provide to those who we care for. We continue to provide specialised equipment such as hospital beds on a needs basis which we hire as required.

We are very grateful for the monthly donation of $1200 which we receive from Cape Hawke Health which has covered most of the cost of leasing our equipment storage premises for some years now.

Due to the generosity of our community we are often gifted with equipment that is no longer needed, sometimes more than we can use, so we rotate and upgrade our equipment stock as we are able. Due to this excess we have been able to send 6 pallets of medical equipment, continence aids, linen, curtains and blankets overseas in the past 18 months through the assistance of Bob Nelson and the Taree Rotary Club. It is transported to Brisbane and then shipped to overseas countries like Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu.

Recently we were able to donate 6 CPAP machines and 2 nebulisers to Sleep Dynamics Newcastle and the machines will be sanitised and re-calibrated for use by those who are unable to afford to purchase their own machine.

We continue to provide Social Worker assistance to those who cannot get services through usual channels. This has been so beneficial with helping patients and families negotiate the trauma of changed financial circumstances, changes in employment, housing while facing the trauma associated with a life limiting illness and need to apply for benefits or who are struggling to make ends meet. We remain grateful to Jane Bone for the wonderful work she does to help our patients and families. Due to the increased cost of living it has been apparent that Jane has more requests for assistance with costs of living, rent and utilities as well as the need for food and petrol. To this end we have provided Jane with vouchers that can be used to buy groceries and petrol and can be given for immediate use when it’s needed. This year alone we have provided over $2000 in vouchers for food and petrol.

We have provided financial assistance to pay the costs of pharmacy bills, car registration, utility bills, school fees, assistance with rent. These requests are taken on the clinician’s advice, on an individual case by case basis and we do our best to use the money wisely. This is a significant part of what we do. We are usually the last resort when all else has failed.

Jane is also instrumental with the Oncology staff in issuing vouchers for massages for patients or carers struggling with fatigue, stress and just needing something special done for them. We provide the vouchers at $80 each, and our Massage Therapist Cathy Brown, is able to visit at the patient’s own home or in hospital if required. Cathy also provides specialised lymphatic drainage massage for patients suffering from lymphedema, which is often very helpful to relieve pain experienced with advanced disease. This year more than 30 vouchers have been provided.

The number of patients going through our local Oncology Department at Forster Private Hospital has escalated and I was advised by Emma McLeod CNS Oncology, Palliative Care that there are 300 Oncology patients registered at Forster alone at this time.

Charmaine Barraclough continues to organise the supply of wigs for Oncology patients. Charmaine assists with fittings, selection of wigs and follow up support visits which have been extremely beneficial for many patients. Nearly $2000 has been spent this year on wig supply. We are grateful for Charmaine’s caring and supportive work in this area.

Palliative Care Week

Palliative Care Week was celebrated with Our Remembrance Service in the Community of Christ Church with highlight being the candle lighting and beautiful singing of the Green Cathedral Choir. We finished the week off with our renowned annual Trivia night, which was very successful.

Throughout the year our hard working members of our Fundraising Auxiliary under the leadership of Kay Chapman and now Helen Cramp have worked tirelessly to keep our community profile high and to raise funds we need to keep our service functioning, With raffles, plant stalls, Melbourne Cup Luncheon, bucket collections, barefoot bowls evening, Trivia night, charity shop and garage sales you have all worked hard. We have benefitted by being involved with Forster Bowling Club for 100 Club, Great Lakes Historical Car Club Motorfest which was a very successful event. We also appreciate the support we are given by Tuncurry Beach Bowling Club, not only allowing us to use their facilities but supporting us generously with raffle prizes

We have been blessed by much community support and been the beneficiary of donations from sporting groups, service clubs, individuals, bereaved families and long-time supporters. We remained indebted to the Nixon family and all their supporters who have contributed to our work in such a big way. Out of your grief you have been a blessing for so many.

My sincere thanks to the members of the Management Committee who deal with the nitty gritty, day to day running of our service, I am indebted to you for your support. To Lynn Nadjarian and Vicki Thomas who are stepping down from Management Committee this year our thanks for all you have done, and look forward to continue working with you on the fundraising side of things. To Chris our Treasurer and her husband Gary sincere thanks for all the hard work and effort you have put in over the past years. We are sorry to see you go but wish you nothing but good health and happy times ahead.

To all the Palliative Care and Oncology staff on behalf of all of us and those you care for, thank you for a job well done. To Trish, our Palliative Care CNC, as you finish up in your role, it has been a pleasure to work with you not only as a nurse but through our association with Palliative Care Support, and as you retire may you be blessed with good health, happiness and if you should get bored, we can always find you a job.

To all the members of Great Lakes Palliative Care Support regardless of what you do now, have done in the past or what you will do in the future, thank you for showing what a caring community can achieve.

I move that my report be accepted.


Deidre Stokes