Award for excellence in palliative care

Dr Paula Moffat with Bethesda Health Care CEO Neale Fong

Palliative care is more than a job, it’s a calling.

That’s according to Dr Paula Moffat, who was recognised for Excellence in Community-Based Care by an Individual at the 2021 National Palliative Care Awards.

Dr Moffat, who accepted the award via video link during the Oceanic Palliative Care Conference, said she was “honoured and humbled”.

“It seems strange to me to receive an individual award when we work in teams, so this really belongs to everyone,” she said.

“But it’s lovely that with everything going on in the world, we’re still able to have these awards and for people to be recognised.

“All the other nominees do such great work, so it’s really just such an honour.”

Working with Bethesda Health Care in Western Australia, Dr Moffat acknowledged that palliative care might not be everyone’s first career choice.

“Working in teams, we do share the load and I would say it’s more of a calling than a job, from the point of view that you’re looking after patients and their family unit at an important time,” she said.

“Giving people time to make shared decisions and to give people as good a quality of life as we can.

“It’s definitely tough sometimes and there are always days when you want to be able to do more.”

Dr Moffat celebrated her award with members of the palliative care team at Bethesda Health Care

Dr Moffat said she aimed to bring palliative care “more into the mainstream” of medicine and not be something that was brought up “at the end”.

“It’s still a relatively new speciality and we have seen a lot of changes in the past 10 years,” she said.

“It’s not an easy subject to talk about and, with modern medicine, in many ways people are being treated and getting a good outcome – people are living longer and the realities of end of life is not in the forefront of people’s minds, like it may have been many years ago.

“It’s not really part of our everyday conversation. I hope in the future palliative care is more integrated into health as a whole.

“To have more understanding and better funding for what we do, would be great.

“And to be part of the treatment plan earlier, rather just called in for end-of-life care – there’s so much more we can do earlier on and to get into that space for a patient as soon as possible, would be great.”

Despite palliative care being “a tough gig”, Dr Moffat said she loved her job and the team she worked with.

“I really love working with patients and their families, just doing the best we can do, and it’s empowering for them,” Dr Moffat said.

“Sometimes it’s just the simplest things we do for people that can make a huge difference.

“It’s the relationships you build with people that’s really special.

“And I’m very grateful for Bethesda, they’ve been really supportive of what we do.

“It’s not an easy gig but it’s an important one and being able to provide quality, comprehensive care is what it’s all about.”

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