Lisa's Lunches organiser Jacqui Martin and Palliative Care Nurse Unit Manager Melanie McBain.
Lisa's Lunches organiser Jacqui Martin and Palliative Care Nurse Unit Manager Melanie McBain.

Ipswich steps up after call for hospital care packages

DOZENS of care packages delivered to Ipswich Hospital will comfort family and friends keeping a bedside vigil for a loved one.

The Palliative Care Boxes are an initiative of Lisa’s Lunches, a volunteer program named in memory of Lisa Heuston, who died at Ipswich Hospital in 2017 after a battle with cancer.

Palliative Care Nurse Unit manager Melanie McBain said the boxes would be given to hospital visitors supporting a loved one during end-of-life care as a comforting reminder that they are not alone.

“When people arrive by the bedside of a loved one, sometimes they are not prepared to stay for long but end up staying 24 or 48 hours, so items like toothbrushes, toothpaste and hand cream are gratefully received,’’ Ms McBain said.

“It is very touching for a patient’s supporter to think there are people in the community who are caring for them at that time – not just their families and health workers but people in the broader community too.’’

Lisa’s Lunches organiser Jacqui Martin said the volunteer program, sustained by donations from Ipswich residents and the Lisa’s Lunches Facebook community, continued Lisa’s legacy to support others during tough times.

Ms Martin, a close former workmate of Lisa, said her friend would make lunches for teachers to distribute to students who went to school without food.

When Lisa was diagnosed with cancer, her friends decided to support her and her family in kind, by organising packed lunches for Lisa’s children.

Ms Martin said the Lisa’s Lunches movement continued to grow, with more than 10,000 lunches to support West Moreton families affected by cancer.

The plan to expand on Lisa’s Lunches to support people in the Palliative Care Unit was already in motion when COVID restrictions prompted a fast-tracked response, Ms McBain said.

When hospital visits were restricted during the escalated COVID response, people visiting the Palliative Care Unit were confined to the room of their loved one and were unable to share communal tea rooms.

Ms Martin said she put out a call on Facebook for assistance in supplying the Palliative Care Unit with five kettles.

“Twelve minutes – that’s how long it took for supporters to answer the request via the Lisa’s Lunches Facebook page,” Ms Martin said.

“We are so grateful to this amazing community. No request is ever a problem.”

Now the army of supporters has provided donations including toiletries, socks, crosswords and adult colouring books, tea bags, long-life milk, cereal and snacks for each Palliative Care Box.