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Know the people at the heart of palliative care

21 May 2024

National Palliative Care Week (19-25 May 2024) provides a chance to connect with the people at the heart of quality palliative care – the doctors, nurses, allied health workers, volunteers, and families.

One of Queensland’s largest palliative care services is right here in Metro South. Caring for over 5,000 palliative patients, their families and carers annually, the Metro South Palliative Care Service (MSPCS) and its staff are led by Director, Dr Arvind Gunasekaran. 

Dr Gunasekaran began his palliative care journey during his Basic Physician Training. 

“I had the privilege of working with the PAH Palliative Care Team for three months. This experience was transformative, as it revealed to me the profound and positive impact palliative care can have on patients facing serious illnesses, and their families. The strong sense of teamwork, peer support, and emphasis on self-care further solidified my decision to pursue this deeply compassionate specialty,” he says. 

During his work in palliative care over the past decade, he says palliative care has expanded in scope and availability, with increased recognition of its importance in healthcare.

“There is a growing emphasis on early integration of palliative care into patient care and a focus on holistic support for patients and their families. I believe palliative care has undergone significant development in Queensland with an increased focus on advance care planning, community-based services, expanded access and support to regional, rural and remote areas, and improved support for culturally diverse populations. Additionally, there has been an emphasis on research and education to enhance best-practice palliative care service delivery.”

Dr Gunasekaran says that he would like the general public and health professionals to better understand that palliative care is about living as fully and comfortably as possible, regardless of the stage of a terminal illness. 

“It's not just about end-of-life care; it's about providing support, symptom management, and quality-of-life enhancement from the time of a terminal diagnosis.

“As a palliative care physician, the opportunity to provide compassionate and holistic care to patients and their families during some of the most challenging times in their lives is an honour. Building trusting relationships and being present for patients as they navigate their end-of-life is a privilege I deeply value.”

In 2023, MSPCS experienced a notable increase in demand, receiving over 5,400 referrals. Throughout the year, the service provided care to over 2,700 patients who passed away, while also extending crucial bereavement support to families and carers.

Last updated 21 May 2024
Last reviewed 21 May 2024

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