Erebus Motorsport donates merchandise to PCSE

Erebus Motorsport donates merchandise to PCSE

Dandenong based Erebus Motorsport will be participating in the Bathurst 1000 Supercars race starting Sunday 9th October and, to mark the event, they have generously donated merchandise to help raise funds for palliative care in Melbourne’s south east.

Everyone who donates $10 or more to us online between now and the end of October, and writes “Bathurst 1000” in their donation comment, will go into a draw for the prizes. For every $10 you donate, you gain an entry into the draw so a $50 donation will get you five entries!

The prizes include the original signed brake rotor from the Erebus supercar driven by Anton DePasquale and Brodie Kostecki two years ago in the 2020 Bathurst 1000 and an Authentic model 1:18 Erebus Motorsport #99 Holden ZB Commodore Supercar – 2018 Sandown 500 Retro Round valued at over $200. To make your donation click here now.


Victorian Health Minister visits our new Palliative Care Hub

Victorian Health Minister visits our new Palliative Care Hub

The Victorian Health Minister, the Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas, visited our new Palliative Care Hub and Wellness Centre in Narre Warren today and met with staff, volunteers and client Ivan D’Cruz. Our CEO Kelly Rogerson took the opportunity to thank the Victorian Government for their $2 million contribution towards the building, due to be completed later this year.

Ms Rogerson told the Minister that community palliative care services across the state are experiencing increased demand as a result of our ageing population and the COVID-19 pandemic and stressed the desperate need for more palliative care funding to ensure all Victorians can access the care they need where and when they need it.

“The Andrews Labor Government is proud to contribute $2 million to help you realise the vision for Palliative Care South East,” Ms Thomas told the assembled group adding that the Victorian Government was spending $32 million on palliative care across the state this year.

“Dignity, respect and care, that’s what the health system is all about. We can sometimes lose sight of this and this building embodies that,” she said.

Ms Thomas acknowledged the increase in demand for palliative care and that she had a lot to learn from services like PCSE that support clients by providing palliative care in their home.

A report into the sustainability of palliative care, commissioned by Palliative Care Victoria and released earlier this month, highlighted a significant and growing palliative care funding shortfall in Victoria. Alarming findings from the report show funding increases have not kept pace with demand for services and the rising cost of service delivery. Ms Rogerson told the Minister that the shortfall in funding for service delivery is expected to reach $91 million by 2025. Palliative Care Victoria and its 85 members (including PCSE) is calling for all political parties to commit to a greater investment in palliative care to meet the rapidly rising demand, prior to the upcoming state election.

During her visit, Ms Thomas met with some of our staff and volunteers as well as retired tram driver Ivan D’Cruz. Ivan, 87, was diagnosed with prostrate cancer a few years ago and recently learned it had spread to his spine. He told the Minister about the wonderful support he receives from the clinical team at PCSE as well as the volunteers who provide him with companionship and recently supported him to write a biography.

Meet Nurse Wendy Watkins

Meet Nurse Wendy Watkins

When Wendy Watkins was 10 years old, her grandmother had a heart attack and went to live in a nursing home. Soon after, she had a stroke, lost the use of one side of her body and her health deteriorated rapidly.

Wendy remembers the shock and observing her father’s struggles to come to terms with the changing circumstances, his anxiety and grief. She was not included in discussions about the events that were unfolding and, although she realises now that her parents were trying to protect her, she found the exclusion distressing.

“I was shut out from everything and it was difficult because I knew it was happening,” Wendy said reflecting on that time.

“I think my Dad was trying to protect me but also himself. He wasn’t coping with it all and he didn’t know how to talk about it with me,” she said.

Today, Wendy helps individuals with a life-limiting illness and their families come to terms with their changed circumstances and cope.

“I have never really thought about this experience being my trigger for becoming a palliative care nurse but now, having the opportunity to reflect on this, I feel this has definitely contributed to my passion for palliative care and why I do this every day.”

“I remember my Dad being so emotional for a long time after her death that it was hard for us to talk about her or our feelings, as we worried we would upset him more. As time passed, this became easier and we would all visit her grave every week and enjoy our tea and cake afterwards,”

“I want to help people, like my Dad, to transition comfortably at this challenging time in their lives,” Wendy explained.

“Palliative care is rewarding. I like to make that difference to people when they are going through that tough emotional time. It’s such a privilege to be able to help people transition at this time in their lives.”

Wendy noted that a lot more people are becoming aware that palliative care is about a journey to live well and not just about death and dying.

“Only a little bit of palliative care is about the end and managing those symptoms. An important part of our work is giving comfort to and supporting families. It’s about being there and having a 24 hour number they can call on if there are changes or they need to speak with a nurse. We also provide education and information to support and empower the families and carers. Many of them are not medically minded and don’t have much health literacy but without the carers, our clients can’t be at home so their wish can’t be fulfilled. Whilst the client is at the centre of our work, the carers are important too and at PCSE we recognise that they are a critical part of the care.”

“I love the people and the culture at PCSE. Everyone chips in and works as a team. If you are having a busy day, people support you. We are here for our clients and we are also here for each other,” she said.

Carer Story: Jenk Akyalcin

Carer Story: Jenk Akyalcin

In October 2020 Erika Akyalcin was referred to PCSE from her GP after receiving a terminal diagnosis. At 57 years old she and her husband Jenk decided they wanted to stay together in their family home, rather than living out her remaining time in hospital. The support of our specialist team of nurses, social workers, counsellors and occupational therapists enabled Erika to manage her symptoms and focus on living well. They also provided support to her husband Jenk and their two children, Vanessa and Tayne.

‘The nurses became almost like part of the family in a way and were very mindful of Erika’s circumstance, and treated her with dignity and respect, not just from a medical point of view but treating her like a human being. It was not just nursing support, it was also guidance, counselling and even just friendly conversations that helped our family through the process.’

Jenk and his children had no previous experience in a caring role, so navigating this time was challenging and filled with uncertainty. Fortunately, the accessibility of our team helped to alleviate some of their worries as our specialist staff were available for support 24/7.

‘I knew I could rely on the the nurses or even the receptionist. I could phone late at night and it just gave me a degree of comfort where I thought they’re with me here, I can do this. I did phone at all sorts of crazy hours. There were a couple of occasions where I was unsure about medication dosages and I was able to call and check which was fantastic. It was knowing that it’s not just a visit, it’s a whole organisation backing you up, that made a big difference.’

The importance of our integrated team model was further emphasised by their family who found the different pillars of support paramount to maintaining a sense of normalcy and routine.

‘It was outstanding because we could continue to go about our day, the visits felt like someone we’d known for many years dropping by. That sort of support it’s hard to describe, but the team came out and blended into our family. They weren’t just there for the clinical side.


The team saw beyond their own roles and realised that there are others there at PCSE that may have a role to play in our family. Whether it’s for counselling, bereavement support or the volunteer program. Everyone in the organisation knows what’s going on and is talking about that so they can help you in different ways.’

Jenk is now a part of our Bereavement Support Program that is available for families for up to 13 months after the death of a loved one. We are grateful for his, and his families, willingness to share their story and experience with PCSE.

Meet our Occupational Therapist: Natalee Gilmour

Meet our Occupational Therapist: 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.

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