Meet our Occupational Therapists: Natalee Gilmour

Meet our Occupational Therapists: Natalee Gilmour

Natalee Gilmour completed her Allied health assistant certificate at Holmesglen in 2018, after moving From Broken Hill, NSW. She has worked at peninsula health as an allied health assistant in rehab before starting her role at Palliative Care South East. Natalee is currently studying a double degree in Health Sciences and Physiotherapy at La Trobe University. Natalee has a strong interest in weightlifting and is keen for gyms to open back up, she is also passionate about travelling and photography.

Natalee was looked at for a professional hockey position before rupturing her ACL which sparked her interest in Physiotherapy. As an allied health assistant studying physiotherapy and working at PSCE, Natalee has a keen eye for the way people walk and assessing their safety, (even if not asked). She can often spot walking or fall concerns from clients within a few steps. Natalee finds it very rewarding when clients find the information from her visits have helped them and improved their functional capacity, giving them optimum carer and client safety.

Meet our Occupational Therapists: Dhwani Parikh

Meet our Occupational Therapists: Dhwani Parikh

Dhwani Parikh completed her Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy from India in 2004 and has been working as a registered Occupational Therapist since she migrated to Australia to be with her husband. Dhwani has completed her specialist post graduation study in Palliative Care from Melbourne University in 2018 and is an accredited OT driver assessor. Dhwani has a strong interest in Indian classical dancing, travelling and exploring various forms of cuisines.

As a specialist OT working in Palliative Care for over six years, Dhwani plays an important role within the clinical care team at Palliative Care South East by identifying life roles and activities (“occupations”) that are meaningful to clients, addressing barriers to performing these activities, enabling people with a life-limiting illness to continue performing valued and essential everyday living activities and optimising quality of life and comfort; while acknowledging the changing needs due to deterioration and pending death. Dhwani finds it is extremely rewarding and meaningful when she is able to support client’s and their families within this unique and specialised occupational therapy role and is committed to continuing to support people during challenging times.

Volunteer Memorabilia Program

Volunteer Memorabilia Program

PCSE’s Memorabilia Program specialises in making memorabilia items from the clothing of a loved one by one of our talented and skilled volunteers. The thought of having to let go of items such as clothing can sometimes be difficult and painful, but thanks to the recently awarded Stockland CARE Grant PCSE’s memorabilia program can provide a free of charge service to create a memorabilia item that will evoke cherished memories and hold extra special meaning for families involved in our service. Each piece of clothing telling a story unique to the owner.
After recently losing her Father-in-Law, Cara was excited to learn she could utilise the Memorabilia Program to create memorabilia items from his clothes for her family. From her consultation with a memorabilia volunteer and providing the clothes she would like to use, Cara was thrilled and overjoyed to receive her Teddies.
“It just feels so good to have something we can hold onto and cuddle, especially for my boys, and I can’t wait to see my husband’s reaction when he sees them.”
To find out more or to become a memorabilia volunteer for this program contact PCSE on 03 59911300 or click here
Volunteer Snapshot: Hans Rutgrink

Volunteer Snapshot: Hans Rutgrink

Hans became a PCSE volunteer after finishing his working career and seeing an advertisement in the local library for a volunteer position. He thought he would be well suited to sign up and assist those with a life-limiting illness. He has now been a part of our program for over nine years, coming to love the positive outlook of clients and the privilege of sharing their stories during their end stages of life.

When asked to reflect on his experience as a volunteer Hans describes his role as a very rewarding use of time and resources, feeling incredibly humbled by the gratitude of the families he supports.

One of his most memorable moments was when the family of a client asked him to be a part of the memorial service and included a photo of him followed by the caption ‘Hans, a good friend of Donald’.

We are so grateful for the role Hans plays in providing our carers and clients with companionship and support. Without his dedication and time, we would not be able to offer company to those who may need some additional care as they navigate a challenging time.

If you would like to be involved in our volunteer program to help others with a life-limiting illness in our community please click here or call PCSE’s reception on 03 5991 1300. Alternatively, you can support our service by making a donation.


Volunteer Snapshot: Meet Josie Mastroianni

Volunteer Snapshot: Meet Josie Mastroianni

Josie has volunteered with Palliative Care South East (PCSE) for the past five years, making an incredibly valuable contribution to our service. She initially joined the program after witnessing her friend volunteer with PCSE and seeing first-hand how rewarding and satisfying the position was. This, in combination with her passion and motivation to give back to our community, led to Josie joining our team.

Over the past five years, she has helped support a range of carers and clients in a companionship role. When reflecting on her time as a volunteer Josie describes a great feeling of accomplishment knowing she has made someone smile and brought happiness to people’s lives, especially to those who have limited visitors.
She finds that during her volunteering experience it has often been the smaller things that provide the greatest reward. One of her fondest memories is of her very first client.

“I was asked to sit by his bed (as he was at his end-stage of life) whilst his wife needed to run some errands. Boy, did he have a story or two to tell. He so much enjoyed and was proud of what he achieved in his working career, but he was also quick to tell you to leave the room when he wanted to be on his own”.

When asked if she would recommend volunteering with PCSE she is quick to highlight the diversity and flexibility of our program.

“If I could say something to anyone thinking of volunteering, anyone with some spare time, perhaps once a fortnight or even once a month, and you are a caring, motivated, friendly and sensitive to the needs of others, why not join? We are an incredibly diverse group, with a range of ages, identities, skills and personal attributes that complement what PCSE is out to achieve”.

We are so lucky to have Josie as part of our team and thank her for her incredible contribution to our service. Without the enthusiasm of volunteers like her we would struggle to continue providing the highest standard of holistic care to our community.

If you would like to learn more about PCSE’s volunteering program please click here. Alternatively, you can support our service by making a donation to help people with a life-limiting illness to live well.

Volunteer Story: Glenyse’s experience during COVID-19

Volunteer Story: Glenyse’s experience during COVID-19

Glenyse Duck is a biography volunteer who works with PCSE clients in the ‘Sharing My Story’ program. She is an exemplary communicator, going above and beyond to make sure clients feel safe and supported as they create their personal biography. This reflection outlines her experiences as a volunteer during the pandemic as she transitioned her services online.

“My biggest struggle during COVID-19 was figuring out how to remain connected with my “Sharing My Story” clients, as well as enabling new clients to join the program. Transitioning to new software such as “Zoom” and “FaceTime” required not only myself but the client to familiarise themselves with, download successfully and then use the programs. Explaining this to a client who is not confident with technology was challenging.

One client and I ‘FaceTimed’ weekly for about an hour, dependant on her energy levels. She told her story while I dictated it and then typed it into a document later. Another client and I connected using his landline speakerphone weekly as he was elderly, deaf and not able to use technology.

Communicating with my clients, especially new ones, only by phone was very restricting so I wrote a short profile about myself and my experience as a volunteer. This helped me to connect with clients and give them confidence that their story would still be completed in a confidential and timely way. I included a recent photo of myself to give a visual connection.

I sent most information by email, including a weekly draft of their story thus far for each client to amend and return for the following week’s session. Sometimes I used text messages and phone calls to relay messages, receive change of dates, etc. from a client. I also used the internet to research maps, information and photographs of places that couldn’t be obtained directly from a client. For example, an old, fragile photo that usually I would scan whilst visiting in the home. Emailing enabled clients to send me additions to their story in their own time, when they feel up to it.

I had two potential new clients that were very relieved to know that they could still tell their story using technology through these challenging times. When the wife of my client successfully connected Zoom not only was she pleased with herself but her husband, my client, was very impressed with her and really happy that we could all still see each other. He was worried that his almost completed story would not be finished. He had limited English, relying on his wife to interpret his story correctly.

Using FaceTime to communicate with clients gave us a visual connection, allowing them the confidence to share personal information and receive empathy from me, a visually powerful tool. It’s much harder to relay this reassurance using words only by phone. However, we all still shared laughter and tears no matter the medium.

My biggest challenge using these modes of communication has been developing the initial trust and rapport with clients participating in the Sharing My Story Program. At first, I thought how could we even continue to offer this program to clients with a life- limiting illness, to leave their written story for family and friends? Not being able to physically meet and share in this unique role was very challenging. Using these new ways to connect, however difficult at first, has been a very useful tool. I can see it being of use in the future for clients who have heavy demands on their home life. Not having to prepare for yet another visitor, just chatting by phone or by email whenever they feel well enough could be easier, especially once an initial relationship has been developed. In the future I can see these added tools enhancing the Sharing My Story program.

I am rewarded every time I connect and receive gratification from my clients and families, especially once they see their completed story in print. The thought of turning down a client, even in those daunting times, was unthinkable to me. I missed not being able to physically connect initially and then to personally present the completed biography to my client, but the fact I could still provide this service is indescribable. It remains a great honour for me to be part of PCSE’s volunteer program.”

If you would like to learn more about our volunteer program or register your interest please click here.  

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