Robert Molenaar with client Kathy George
Robert Molenaar is a quiet achiever in the clinical care team at Palliative Care South East (PCSE). He loves his job and believes the opportunity to support individuals with a life-limiting illness to live well, receive end-of-life care at home and die peacefully is his calling.
Whilst nursing in the oncology departments of major public hospitals, Robert saw patients suffer the severe side effects of treatments that had a very low chance of any tangible results and believes this marked a turning point in his career.
“It made me think, what can I do to enrich their life and ensure they enjoy what time they have left and that was the palliative care philosophy and it meshed with my values,” Robert said.
“I saw patients undergoing treatments that had limited efficacy, caused major side effects and reduced their quality of life. Sometimes, the effects from the chemotherapy left them so unwell that important time, that could have been spent with their family, was spent stuck in hospital and they died there and that didn’t sit well with me or align with my values.”
So, after more than a decade as an oncology nurse, Robert joined the palliative care team at the newly opened McCulloch House in Clayton and found his calling.
He moved into community palliative care when he joined PCSE in 2004. Ten years later, he completed a Masters degree to become a Nurse Practitioner which is an advanced practice nurse that holds additional qualifications and skills to support the care of individuals who have complex needs.
“I can’t see myself ever leaving the community sector. I like that I have more autonomy and my results are more tangible here because I can write scripts and refer patients to other health practitioners, and I can do it in a timely fashion whilst having the support of the (PCSE) team. I can also be a source of support for other staff.”
Robert enjoys working closely with individuals and their families to ensure they live well, can stay in their homes for as long as they wish and that their end-of-life care reflects their wishes and values.
“The most enjoyable part of my job is meeting people in their homes and helping them. It is as simple as that,” he said.
Whilst many in the community seek out palliative care in the last few weeks of life, Robert says the best palliative care focuses on the last year of an individual’s life. It supports them and their families and carers to live well by managing their pain and other symptoms, enabling them to be comfortable so they can enjoy doing the things they love and time together. The nursing care is complemented by allied health services that will improve their quality of life and help them prepare for the end of life. Robert says good palliative care supports clients to live well and have a peaceful death in the place of their choice.
Read more stories like this in our latest Annual Report