Proud leaders in palliative care services
Caritas Christi in Kew is the largest and best-known provider of palliative and supportive care in Victoria. It is a centre of excellence in its field.
Palliative care helps people with a life-limiting or terminal illness to live as fully and as comfortably as possible and aims to ease the suffering of patients and their families.
Caritas Christi Operations Manager of Palliative Care Services, Michael Bramwell, says his team’s focus is to provide support and comfort during a patient’s illness journey. “This support can encompass symptom management or end-of-life care. As well as grief and bereavement support for families.”
This tax time, we are seeking support to help Michael and his dedicated team to continue to provide the best patient care. We hope you will consider giving a gift to help us purchase a Cuddle Bed and Bluetooth speakers for Caritas Christi. These items will enrich patients’ experiences during a very vulnerable time.
A Cuddle Bed provides much-needed closeness and connection
A Cuddle Bed is a large patient bed that is custom designed to enable loved ones to provide physical touch and comfort to patients, often during the final stages of their life. It’s large enough to fit a partner if they want to lie together or grandchildren who want to be close to their grandparent.
Michael says during his experience of caring for his mum when she was nearing end-of-life, he found that touch was critical. “There’s something intrinsically intimate and powerful about touch and being close to someone you love.
Another key tool in palliative patient care is music. Studies have shown that music plays a powerful role in helping to manage and control pain and to relieve depression.
“Music can create a powerful emotional connection for people. It can transport you back to a treasured memory; for example, the song that played while you walked down the aisle on your wedding day,” Michael says.
Don Priestly and his devoted wife of 46 years, Carmel, have a special bond. It’s a bond that can only come from experiencing something truly life-changing. Over 30 years ago, at just 40 years of age, Don was diagnosed with a very rare genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. It is a form of emphysema that causes severe breathlessness.
This cruel condition means Don needs to be attached to oxygen 24/7. Don’s condition has required Carmel to take on the role of being his primary carer. This role has become increasingly challenging and tiring as Don’s condition has worsened over the years.
Two years ago, Don became gravely ill. He spent time in the Intensive Care Unit at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. Carmel said it got to the point where Don had to take a trip to St Vincent’s via ambulance every four to six weeks. “It was a very challenging and scary time.”
For the past few years, Don has been accessing respite and symptom-management care at Caritas Christi Palliative Care Service in Kew. He’s pleased to report that his health is currently fairly stable. Both Don and Carmel credit this gift of extended and improved quality of life to the incredible staff at Caritas Christi.
Carmel said, “Since Don has been receiving care at Caritas Christi, for a week or two at a time, approximately every six weeks, we haven’t had to call an ambulance for the past five months. The team at Caritas Christi have tweaked his medication, which has meant his condition is steady and he’s able to enjoy life.
“In fact, he’s feeling so well that his mates are organising for him to attend a footy game to watch his favourite local team. He’ll need to remain in the car, but it will be the first time he’s been anywhere in our car in two years, let alone to a footy match!”
Don said he particularly appreciates the friendly staff and enjoys the peace and quiet at Caritas Christi. “I honestly can’t get over how friendly the staff are. They clearly care so much.
“I live with four women – my wife, my daughter, and my two grandchildren who are six and eight – plus our dog Dougie. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of noise at my home!”
Carmel is always kept fully informed during Don’s stays at Caritas Christi. “The doctors are amazing; they stay in constant contact with me about how he’s doing and any medication changes.”
Dougie, their Cavoodle, enjoys joining Carmel on visits to Caritas Christi. The patients adore their four-legged guest. He runs from room to room, greeting as many patients as possible. In fact, during lockdown, Dougie was the only member of the family able to visit Don.
“Caritas Christi is an amazing place. They not only provide beautiful care for people nearing end-of-life, but they also help people to keep living.
“We know we would be in a very different situation if it wasn’t for Caritas Christi and the fabulous team. Both Don and I feel very blessed to be able to access such an incredible service. It truly has been life-changing,” Carmel said.
We need your help to support our patients at Caritas Christi
Please support our patients and dedicated staff at tax time by giving generously. Your gift will help us to provide the best comfort and care to our patients and families during an extremely vulnerable time in their lives.