Hastings Cancer Trust grant to help fund end-of-life biography program at Community Palliative Care
Photo: Trust grant: Community Palliative Care's Jo Denny, The Westport Club's Jenny Edmunds and Molly Warrener, a social work student from Charles Sturt University. A program that completes the biography of people living with life-limiting illness has received a major boost from the Hastings Cancer Trust. The Trust presented 12 grants totalling around $50,000 to a variety of local cancer service organisations on November 14.The Life Matters biography program was one of the recipients and was also acknowledged with the prestigious Allman Award, named in honour of long-time Cancer Trust supporters Betty and John Allman.Mid North Coast Local Health District Community Palliative Care will use the grant to purchase start-up equipment and train volunteers for the program.Palliative care bereavement counsellor Jo Denny said Life Matters was a volunteer biography program."The biography program will be a free service for people receiving community palliative care through the Local Health District (LHD)," she said."It provide individuals living with a life-limiting illness the opportunity to review and record their life stories with a trained volunteer."Volunteers will conduct interviews to author the biographies, which will be printed and bound by the LHD."Clients will be presented with their completed biography, or it will be presented to a nominated family member or friend."Every person is unique and each biography will be an individual representation of their life in whatever style they choose.Every person is unique and each biography will be an individual representation of their life in whatever style they choose.Jo Denny"It may be filled with recipes, stories, advice, song lyrics or photos," she said."For parents with young children, multiple books can be provided for different age appropriate versions."Ms Denny said the biography would become a legacy item for family which maintains their enduring connection with their loved one, and can provide comfort for their grief.The process of completing a biography has been shown to improve psychological and spiritual well-being for people at end-of-life, as it provides an opportunity to reminisce, make meaning, and maintain hope.The program will benefit not only individuals living with a life-limiting illness, but also their carers, families, friends, and community, Ms Denny said.It will also provide an opportunity for volunteers to engage in meaningful, profound, and rewarding societal contributions, as well as learn new skills and apply transferable existing skills."We are immensely grateful to the Hastings Cancer Trust and the Allman family for the support and interest in the Life Matters volunteer biography program," she said."The grant will be used for the purchase of equipment to establish the program, such as digital voice recorders and binding equipment, as well as recruiting and training the first group of volunteer biographers."It was an unexpected honour on the night to also receive the Betty and John Allman Award."Donations to the Hastings Cancer Trust directly benefit the local community as every dollar raised contributes to programs such as Life Matters, making a difference for people living with cancer.