Visitor from Down Under is both ‘deeply impressed and amazed’

Una Kelleher, a nurse from Australia, with Lynn Kelly, head of education at St Catherine's Hospice
Una Kelleher, a nurse from Australia, with Lynn Kelly, head of education at St Catherine's Hospice
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St Catherine’s Hospice is well loved by the community in Lancashire who appreciate the care and attention that goes into looking after seriously ill patients. AASMA DAY finds out how a nurse from Australia travelled to the hospice and spent time learning about its work.

It’s not often a facility attracts admiration from the other side of the world, but St Catherine’s Hospice in Lostock Hall did just that after hosting a visit from a nurse from Down Under.

Una Kelleher, who was born in Cork, Ireland, but now lives in Australia, arrived at the hospice through the Brian Gillies Scholarship, a grant awarded in memory of a patient she cared for at Cabrini Hospital in Melbourne, a private health organisation run as a not-for-profit charity.

Una was deeply impressed by the work carried out at St Catherine’s Hospice and was particularly amazed by the amount of fundraising and charity work carried out by the community.

Una, 26, spent time on the inpatient and day therapy units at St Catherine’s as well as in The Woodside lymphoedema clinic.

She has worked on the palliative care ward at the Melbourne hospital for the past 18 months after completing her training and working at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.

Una was awarded the scholarship to learn about palliative care in other parts of the world and she travelled to Preston to find out more about the work of St Catherine’s Hospice.

She was picked for the $10,000 scholarship, an award donated by the widow of Brian Gillies who she cared for. The scholarship is designed to promote palliative care research and collaborative work and it will be handed out for the next five years.

Una spent two-and-a-half weeks in the UK and Ireland working at different hospices including St Catherine’s where she gathered information and experiences to feed back to the Australian hospital.

Una says: “It was really interesting to visit day therapy and see the variety of things that take place there from the nursing and medical care to the complementary therapies, the art therapy and other diversional activities.

“This is certainly something we could develop further over in Melbourne.

“We currently have a music therapist but this is only accessed by in-patients.

“Inviting patients from the community to come in and benefit from these treatments would be a really great way for us to reach more people.

“It was very insightful sharing practices with the nurses on the in-patient unit to see where there were similarities and differences.

“Fundamentally, end of life care is the same wherever you are in the world, but it was great to find out more about new and different ways of approaching things.

“Spending time in the lymphoedema clinic was a real eye-opener too. Seeing the latest equipment like lasers they have access to and the difference this can make to patients was brilliant.

“I am so impressed with the amount of charity work that goes on at St Catherine’s Hospice and the amount of fundraising they do.

“Everyone is so dedicated from the nurses and volunteers to the fundraisers. So much effort and team work goes into everything and it was great to be part of it for a few days.”

Lynn Kelly, head of education at St Catherine’s Hospice, says the placement was a great way of sharing good practice and specialised skills and they were thrilled to welcome Una to the hospice.

She says: “We offer many different types of placement experience, from just a day to several months for a wide range of health and social care professionals and trainees including doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social workers.

“It is one of the many ways we try to raise awareness of hospice care and help to improve quality of life and dignity in death for all.

“We were delighted to have an international visitor this time as the sharing of experience, knowledge and practice is beneficial for everyone involved.”