Palliative Care South East supports family through terminal diagnosis

The Akyalcin family are grateful for the support of Palliative Care South East.

In October 2020, Erika Akyalcin was referred to PCSE from her GP after receiving a terminal diagnosis.

At 57 years old, she and her husband Jenk decided they wanted to stay together in their family home, rather than living out her remaining time in hospital.

The support of PCSE’s specialist team of nurses, social workers, counsellors and occupational therapists enabled Erika to manage her symptoms and focus on living well.

They also provided support to her husband Jenk and their two children, Vanessa and Tayne.

“The nurses became almost like part of the family in a way and were very mindful of Erika’s circumstance, and treated her with dignity and respect, not just from a medical point of view but treating her like a human being,” Jenk said.

“It was not just nursing support, it was also guidance, counselling and even just friendly conversations that helped our family through the process.”

Jenk and his children had no previous experience in a caring role, so navigating this time was challenging and filled with uncertainty.

The accessibility of the PCSE team helped to alleviate some of their worries as our specialist staff were available for support 24/7.

“I knew I could rely on the the nurses or even the receptionist,” Jenk said.

“I could phone late at night and it just gave me a degree of comfort where I thought they’re with me here, I can do this.”

“I did phone at all sorts of crazy hours.

“There were a couple of occasions where I was unsure about medication dosages and I was able to call and check which was fantastic.

“It was knowing that it’s not just a visit, it’s a whole organisation backing you up, that made a big difference.”

The family found the different pillars of support paramount to maintaining a sense of normalcy and routine.

“It was outstanding because we could continue to go about our day, the visits felt like someone we’d known for many years dropping by,” Jenk said.

“That sort of support it’s hard to describe, but the team came out and blended into our family.

“Whether it was for counselling, bereavement support or the volunteer program, everyone in the organisation knew what was going on and talked about that so they could help in different ways.”

Jenk is now a part of the Bereavement Support Program that is available for families for up to 13 months after the death of a loved one.