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An honour of the highest order for Palliative Care CNC

29 November 2023

With eighteen years’ experience in Palliative Care nursing, QEII CNC Renee Wilson handles death like an expert. With a calming, compassionate nature and a wealth of experience in various settings, it is little wonder that supporting patients through their final moments comes naturally to Renee. 

Growing up next door to a funeral home and losing her aunt to CJD in her early 20s gave Renee a unique perspective on death from a young age, setting the course for her career path.

“I spent my days climbing our Jacaranda tree to watch the goings-on next door. I knew from an early age that dying was a normal part of life and not something to be afraid of,” she said.

“When my aunt was dying, my family cared for her at home. Everyone in the family played a role and each role was as important as the other. Whilst her death was very sad, there were many beautiful moments of joy, laughter and connection.

“When I became a nurse, I just naturally knew what to do when people were dying. I think it was what I was meant to do in life, and I feel lucky that I found that out early. It's a beautiful job,” she said.  

Answering her unique calling early in her nursing career, Renee spent the next ten years in community Palliative Care at a hospice in North Brisbane. It was here that Renee fully embraced her gift and discovered the beauty in dying. 

“Visiting people in their home was an honour and privilege. I loved meeting such a diverse range of people. One day you could be in a caravan, the next day in a mansion. I learned that when people are dying, they are all the same.”
Making the move to Metro South, Renee worked across the Princess Alexandra, Redland and Logan hospitals before settling into her new home at QEII three years ago. 

“It’s like a big family here. QEII feels like a country hospital though I know it's growing rapidly. The people and the patients here are extraordinary in the lives that they’ve had, just simple but extraordinary.” 

It’s a team effort at Ward 3A, where Renee credits her highly experienced peers for their wisdom and teamwork as they navigate the ups and downs of palliative care nursing. 

“It can be grim sometimes, so it’s really important that we all take care of ourselves and each other,” she said. 
“I feel like I've reached a point in my career where I really like working in this QEII team, but I couldn't do it alone. These nurses on the floor have been here for probably 10 years, and they're experts who know dying like the back of their hands. It's a privilege to work alongside them and just provide really good care.” 
As she approaches two decades in palliative care, Renee says self-care and healthy habits are a cornerstone of her daily routine and essential to keeping her mental health in check. 
“I exercise and I meditate regularly. Recently, I attended a silent retreat at Byron Bay and that was incredible. I feel rejuvenated and ready to give now that my cup has been replenished.” 
Renee’s calming nature and wealth of knowledge have earned her the premier Board Chair’s Award at the Metro South Health Staff Awards. Nominated by the MSH Board Chair, the award cited Renee’s positive and lasting impact on the MSH community after launching the ‘10 Flower Jars’ initiative during the height of the pandemic. 

Still running to this day, the initiative represents the 10 Palliative Care patients staying at QEII at any given time and invites community members to donate flowers to fill the jars and brighten the rooms of those patients.

Renee was also shortlisted for the Values Award, and while it comes as little surprise to her peers, Renee says it is humbling to be recognised for work that comes so naturally to her. 
“It doesn’t feel like I am doing anything special. I'm just connecting with humans. It's simple. I like to meet every human where they're at, listen deeply to them, and connect with them so they know they’re not alone and that they’re safe.”
Congratulations on this achievement Renee and thank you for your ongoing commitment to supporting the QEII community.

Last updated 17 January 2024
Last reviewed 29 November 2023

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