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Give the gift of your time

Palliative Care Service volunteer co-ordinator Leanne Barton with volunteer Dawn Rhodes, of Launceston. Picture: GEOFF ROBSON

DESPITE what people think, laughter, smiles and patience can often be found in a palliative care unit.

Once a fortnight for the the past six years, Dawn Rhodes, from Launceston, has volunteered at the Melwood Palliative Care Unit.

Mrs Rhodes is a listener, a storyteller, a friend and sometimes even a masseuse for the patients who face life-limiting illnesses.

While there can be sadness and tears, she said she would never describe her work as depressing.

“The important thing to remember is that you’re dealing with people just like us who are having a tough time in their lives,” Mrs Rhodes said.

“We are who we are, no matter what’s going on outside of us or inside of us.

“You learn a great deal from these people – they’re courageous, they’re patient and they’re an inspiration.”

Before she began her volunteer work at the unit, Mrs Rhodes attended a comprehensive training program to ensure she was able to support the wide range of people in the unit and that she could be comfortable around death.

“I really had a desire to know about the processes of death and dying.

“I found that the more you find out, the more you learn, the more you know about a particular thing, the less fearful you become.”

From tomorrow, the palliative care unit will spend the week recruiting volunteers who are able to support those needing care, both in the unit and in their homes. A six-week training program will run once a week from April 1, for information phone 63365544.

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