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20 May 2024

Silverchain is seeking volunteers across Perth’s metropolitan area – particularly the northern suburbs - to provide valuable support to palliative care clients. One such client was Wally Kewley, who was diagnosed with brain cancer.

When Wally and his wife Jackie were making plans for their next overseas adventure, there was no hint that Wally’s health would take a turn for the worse, preventing them from exploring Vietnam.

Wally’s diagnosis of brain cancer in February last year threw the Kewleys’ lives upside down, with Wally first needing urgent surgery, followed by numerous rounds of chemotherapy.

By April 2023, Wally was placed on a home-based palliative care plan with Silverchain who were quick to also offer volunteer care as additional support for the Gosnells couple.

The couple was paired up with volunteer Tarja Abbott, who started volunteering for Silverchain shortly before the pandemic hit in 2020 as a way to give back to the community during her retirement.

Jackie, 76, said when Silverchain first suggested volunteer care as a way to give her a break, she wasn’t sure she would need it.

“But after Tarja’s first visit, I quickly realised what a huge difference that little bit of extra care made for me and Wally,” Jackie said.


“Once a fortnight, I used the time for all sorts of things, whether it’s going to the hairdresser, running errands or catching up with friends. I’ve really loved having the service provided to us.”
Wally (left) cherished chats with Tarja over coffee and wagon wheels..

Before Wally passed away in March this year, aged 79, he shared how much he enjoyed having some extra company and giving his wife some much-deserved “her time”.

“Tarja and I will have a coffee and chat about different things or just enjoy watching a movie. She tells me interesting things about her home in Finland, which is one of the countries we visited during a Baltic cruise,” Wally said. 

Tarja is part of Silverchain’s valued group of volunteers who provide support for palliative care clients through social support and companionship, food shopping, taking clients on outings, as well as provide respite for carers.

Silverchain’s Volunteer Resources Manager Lily Meszaros said volunteers get the chance to make a significant difference to the lives of clients and their families such as the Kewleys.

“Volunteers such as Tarja can make such a valuable contribution to the quality of life for people living with advanced, progressive or life-limiting illness as well as providing respite for their carers” Lily said.

“Sometimes it can just be as simple as sitting down for a chat over a cup of tea, or a coffee and a wagon wheel which was Wally’s favourite.

“As a volunteer with our palliative care clients, you’re part of a compassionate team of people that includes nurses, doctors, social workers, spiritual care workers and care aides.”

To explore volunteering with Silverchain, call Silverchain’s Volunteer Resources Coordinator Jenny Styles on 0439 706 228 or email volunteer@silverchain.org.au

 




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