Improving Palliative Care in Aged Care

portrait photo of Kellie Bradley

Kellie Bradley’s earliest memories are of wanting to care for others and nurse them.

However, it was watching the tenderness and care of the nurses that supported her grandfather, after he was diagnosed with bowel cancer, that convinced her she needed to join palliative care. Those nurses were from the Dandenong Palliative Care Centre, now part of Palliative Care South East (PCSE).

“I was very close to him and the grief of losing him was great. I remember coming in and watching those nurses and thinking that I just wanted to nurse like that,” Kellie said.

“I also wanted to be able to support the families and carers in their grief and give them permission to grieve as they did for me,” she added.

After completing her clinical experience in general nursing and oncology and gaining postgraduate qualifications in palliative care, Kellie joined the team at PCSE and has never looked back.

Today, she is a nurse consultant in aged care and completing her Master of Nurse Practitioner. Kellie oversees our home-based palliative care service in the 47 residential aged care facilities within our catchment.

“Three of my four grandparents died of cancer and were nursed by PCSE at home or in aged care facilities,” Kellie said.

“I was lucky enough to grow up with all four of my grandparents and they survived until I was an adult so I was very close to them all.”

“It made me passionate about providing specialist palliative care in residential aged care settings and, whenever I visit clients in these settings, it’s always front of mind that they are people with the right to access specialist palliative care like any other member of the community.”

“I always treat them with respect, try to improve their quality of life and enable them to die comfortably.

“Some of our clients who have dementia can be challenging, especially those who have psychological and behavioural symptoms related to their dementia. However, it’s still important to acknowledge that they are someone’s loved one and it’s my job to meet their needs, manage their pain and symptoms and provide support to the family.”

“I know from my own experience that when you feel your loved one’s needs are not being met, it’s very distressing.”

This year, Kellie is leading a research project aimed at improving palliative care in aged care settings. She hopes the results will lead to earlier and more quality referrals for these clients.

“I enjoy the complexity and the clinical challenge of working in these settings. It’s a complex role and there are complex cases every day. I also get to provide bedside palliative care education to facility staff and mentor them.”

“At the end of the day, I do this because I get a lot of satisfaction from improving residents’ symptom management and quality of life,” she said.

Kelllie was recently nominated for a Humanetix Heart Award for services to aged care.

Skip to content