Our Stories

National Palliative Care Week (May 19 to May 25, 2024) is an annual event. Ballarat Hospice Care understands it’s all about the people who are at the heart of palliative care. It’s the patients, their carers, their families, the palliative care doctors, nurses, allied health, support workers and volunteers.

Mr Michael Chennell (who prefers to be called Mike), a patient of Ballarat Hospice Care generously agreed to share his experience of palliative care so that others may learn. Mike was referred to Ballarat Hospice Care by his Specialist at Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre. He admitted that his initial thoughts were

“Oh God, he’s telling me you haven’t got much longer”.

The reality for Mike, was that it has been a very different experience to what he expected. He went on to explain that every palliative care worker who has visited him in his home made him feel relaxed, natural and as if he had known them for a long time. The ease he felt allowed him to be completely honest with everyone he met.

Mike spoke recently to a Supportive Care Advisor saying

“The people at Hospice have changed my life”. The Advisor asked him to explain. He spoke about a visit by one of the Palliative Care Nurses where he said

“I can feel the doors closing; I am having a couple of issues like standing and getting up”. 

Mike then went on to tell of how the nurse began looking around his home, anticipating equipment he may need to feel safe and supported at home. Next day the equipment was delivered and installed for him at no cost by “…an absolute wizard”.

“So while the journey itself is hard and it’s getting harder, the support is there for us on the palliative journey. The care is brilliant and everyone I’ve met is brilliant. They are professional, caring and time does not seem to be an issue”.

“I recently had one of the workers sit down with me to go through an Advanced Care Plan. It was the best thing I’ve done”. Michael followed this with a GP visit to finalise the plan. This meant that Michael then felt prepared to discuss the plan honestly and openly with his family, commenting

“Having the Advanced Care Plan in place made it so much easier to talk to my family about my wishes… I feel as if I have come to a place of peace and acceptance”.

Mike’s advice for anyone who has been referred to palliative care is

“Go in with an open mind; be prepared to be honest as the workers are not mind readers and one visit will change your whole attitude”.

Pictured: Mike Chennell

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