Biography Volunteer

About Marissa

Marissa volunteers her time, presence, and journalistic skills with the Northern Adelaide Palliative Care Service, Biography Program. With a natural ability to simply be with people she values the individual’s precious time with deep listening and storytelling.

Q&A Interview:

Disclaimer: The views expressed are the opinions and thoughts of our interviewees, reflecting on their own experiences and views.

What inspired you to become a volunteer in palliative care?

I love listening to people’s stories; it’s the best part of my job and so it made sense to volunteer in a role where I was able to do enjoy this in a way that allowed me to give back to the community. There is something special about seeing a person’s face light up as they unlock a long forgotten memory.

What do you think will encourage others to begin volunteering in palliative care?

I think stepping outside yourself and putting yourself in the shoes of someone in palliative care has been extremely helpful. It’s made me think about, should myself or a loved one be in need of some extra support or just another friendly face.

How do volunteers in palliative care enhance the overall experience for families?

Volunteers provide a sense of comfort and support outside of a treatment team. We are individuals who choose to be engaged and are honoured with being allowed to do so. We are an extra ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, another person to bring laughter, joy a sense of lightness to a space where things can otherwise feel heavy.

Meeting with patients and their families has given me a new appreciation for life, our experiences and what really matters at the end of our lives. The process has helped me build an emotional resilience that is both soft and welcoming and has allowed me the opportunity to really think outside the box on how to capture the essence of each patient in black and white on the pages of a biography.

What support do you receive associated with your palliative care volunteering role?

The volunteer coordinators are wonderful. There is always someone to contact to answer a question or offer support. The training offered has been both insightful and enjoyable and has given me the opportunity to meet with other volunteers in the same and/or similar roles.

What would you like to see included into palliative care volunteering services?

I would love to see complementary therapy included into the palliative care program. Something as simple as a hand massage can increase a sense of connection and relaxation while giving the participants something to look forward to each week.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering becoming a volunteer in palliative care?

Do it! No matter how small or large the amount of time you have to give, I promise it will enrich the lives of those you work with and will have a profound impact on your own life in the best of ways! It has been such a blessing to sit and listen to the live stories of some amazing people. Each person you meet will leave a little piece of themselves with you in a way you will never forget.