Esther Bushell: Caring For Our Patients Holistically

Proud Westie Esther Bushell joined the Hospice West Auckland team earlier this year as Psychosocial Services Manager. She leads the Social Care team who together provide for the social, psychological and emotional needs of Hospice patients and their loved ones – everything, in fact, additional to their medical needs. “There is so much more that impacts on a patient and their journey than just their physical needs,” says Esther, “which is why we look at the full picture, their entire ecosystem.”

Esther’s diverse team of therapists includes social workers, counsellors, arts and music therapists, massage therapists, lymphedema specialists, a spiritual advisor, an aromatherapist and a Rongoā Māori Practitioner. The multi disciplines bring different approaches, viewpoints and skills to the quality holistic care HWA provides.

Esther and her team work closely with Hospice’s doctors and nursing medical team, putting to great use her many years of experience working at Waitemata DHB in Needs Assessment. At Hospice, a patient’s holistic care needs are identified collaboratively through team meetings, referrals and patient discussions - and patients and their families are also able to request time with the social care team. And in line with Hospice’s practice of caring for our patients’ vital support network, the social care also extends to loved ones to support their needs during these challenging times.

Esther’s role also encompasses patient and family volunteer services, ensuring that HWA volunteers have access to training, communications and opportunities to engage with fellow volunteers. Like all of our volunteers, our patient and family volunteers have incredibly valuable roles within the organisation, and make a special impact on those they work with. “It’s important that we provide our patient and family volunteers with a secure space where they can share and learn from each other, feel supported and valued.”

Esther is excited to bring her skills and experience to her role at Hospice. “I’ve always been interested in palliative care – it’s a stage of life that everyone will experience and it’s so difficult to navigate without the right support. To work in this area is a rewarding and special experience. The values of HWA and social care align with my own values. I like the perspective that healthcare in palliative care uses a much wider lens – that recognition that family and the community are also greatly impacted. We recognise that you can’t just address the physical aspect of palliative care without addressing the whole picture.”

Esther loves working with a dedicated team of professionals who are so passionate about caring for our patients and families. “I’ve loved coming into a team of professionals with diverse skills that are valued equally and so collaborative. It’s a healthcare model that I really enjoy – it’s refreshing and inclusive. And it translates into the high standards and consistency of care that we provide.”

Looking to the future, Esther is focused on reinvigorating Hospice House at Beach Road, Te Atatu Peninsula as a vibrant hub for the community. Over the past couple of years, activities at the beautiful house have had to be largely suspended, but with Covid restrictions relaxing, Esther is keen to bring the West Auckland community back. “We have lots of activities planned and want to get the community involved as much as possible: come and join us!”

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