Quality of life is the focus of North West Hospital and Health Service’s new Director of Palliative Care, Dr Robyn Brogan.
Dr Brogan explained the purpose of supportive care and palliative care, and emphasised the importance of family and a support network.
Dr Brogan said supportive care addressed the personal and wider needs of the patient and family, while palliative care was introduced later, focusing on the person’s quality of life, and finding ways to relieve pain and suffering.
“When someone is in their last year, months, or weeks of life, we hope the person and their family will have enough time and energy for the really important things,” says Dr Brogan. Many people in the community contribute to a person’s care during those last days of life. “In many ways, care of people in their last years of life becomes everyone’s business,” she said
Dr Brogan had a taste of Mount Isa in July and August when she did a stint as a locum and loved it so much she is back permanently.
“I enjoyed the people. I was impressed with the kindness and openness of the staff and really enjoyed working with the patients and community too,” she said.
While she has had little expertise in Indigenous Palliative Care, Dr Brogan said she was grateful for help from the Aboriginal Liaison Officers and health workers, social workers, nursing staff, and importantly, from elders and aunties in the communities.
“There is a lot to be done in terms of exploring and delivering culturally sensitive palliative care,” Dr Brogan said.
Dr Brogan has been working in palliative care since the mid-1990s, and qualified as a specialist. She chose it as a career because she really likes people and contemplates daily on the fleeting nature of life.
“Transitions, such as birth or dying, can be sacred times. Life is an amazing mystery to me, and the reality of death and dying makes me aware of how precious all life is.”
Dr Brogan says she tries her best to respect every person’s belief system and support their spirituality.
Part of that is to respect the dying process itself, she says, allowing a natural death, yet doing our best to make the person as comfortable as possible.