Art for Relaxation for patient wellbeing

Image: Patients Susan Fardon, art teacher Maureen Nicholas and Carol Westwood.

Murdoch Community Hospice observed Palliative Care Week from May 21 to 28 by holding an art show exhibiting works created by hospice inpatients and outpatients.

Day Coordinator Hospice Services Kathy Parr said the idea behind the exhibition was to give patients something other than their illness to focus on.

“We wanted to showcase the artwork our patients have done over the past 18 months and also show the incredible progress they had made,” Kathy said.

“Not only did their artistic abilities improve, the process also has a hugely positive impact on their wellbeing.”

The hospice has been running Art for Relaxation for palliative care patients for the last 18 months, with volunteer Maureen Nicholas, a retired art teacher, leading the project.

Originally intended as a relaxation therapy for patients, some have found it has come to hold a greater meaning for them.

“It’s given me a sense of purpose whenever I’m feeling down about my illness,” Carol Westwood said.

She and fellow patient Susan Fardon say they feel very proud about their work, and that it has inspired them to be creative in their healing.

With participants in the program having such a positive experience, it’s not hard to see why 70 people have taken the time to get creative since its inception.

“Art can really have a role in the healing process and Palliative Care Week was a perfect opportunity to demonstrate this,” Kathy said.

Further arts installments for patient viewing


The second and third episodes of St John of God Murdoch Hospital’s art program for patient television will feature the life and work of photographer Frances Andrijich and sculptor Tony Jones, both celebrated Perth artists.

The episodes are part of Makers: the artists, their work, their lives, a series of 30-minute episodes that bring to life the artworks in the hospital’s art collection. You can also see these works in a fantastic exhibition in the Linking Corridor and reception area.

The West Australian-first dedicated arts television channel for patients was the brainchild of St John of God Health Care’s Art Curator Connie Petrillo.

“We are very excited to be able to share the significant work of these two artists throughout our hospitals,” says Connie.

“They will provide a wonderful insight and enjoyable viewing for our patients.”

The work of Frances Andrijich has graced magazines, books and newspapers around Australia and the world, including Time MagazineHarper’s BazaarFairfax Good Weekend MagazineAustralian GeographicVogueMarie Claire and Gourmet Traveller.

Amongst her many portraits, her image of an exuberant Heath Ledger is most well-known.

Frances says she is delighted to be involved in the project and looks forward to seeing patients’ reactions.

“To have artwork in such a celebrated collection, like St John of God Health Care, is an honour,” Ms Andrijich says.

“It is always fascinating for me to meet artists and to see them in their environment working…I am sure the patients will feel the same as Makers brings this experience to them.”

Tony Jones was named Western Australia’s Citizen of the Year in 2008. In 2009 he received an Order of Australia Medal for services to the visual arts as a sculptor and educator.

He continues a thriving practice in public art – after inspiring countless students over 50 years of teaching art. Often working collaboratively with other artists, many of his artworks have made their way into the public psyche, such as the regularly, and anonymously, dressed Eliza on the Swan River.

The first episode of the Makers celebrated the work of local painter, sculptor, draughtsman and printmaker Hans Arkeveld and was met with great interest by patients at the hospital. The episode gave viewers a glimpse into his fascinating studio at the University of Western Australia and the unique home he built in the Perth Hills. He talks about his work in the collection, emigrating from Holland as a child, and his father being forced to work for the Gestapo.

Makers is created by the Artist’s Chronicle and commissioned by St John of God Health Care, and on display at Murdoch Hospital.

Preventing hair loss possible for chemotherapy patients

The Cancer Centre at St John of God Murdoch Hospital has purchased a scalp cooling system, DigniCap®, to help prevent hair loss for patients while they are undergoing certain chemotherapy.

Oncologist Daphne Tsoi says individuals are different in terms of how they feel about losing their hair through chemotherapy.

“Some of our patients don’t mind too much and some find it very traumatic. By having this equipment at the Cancer Centre, we can add another layer of comfort for our patients who are already experiencing a difficult time, without the added stress of losing their hair.”

Some chemotherapy drugs can damage your hair cells. By wearing the DigniCap® 30 minutes before, during and for a set period after treatment, the cells are protected and thus aids in the prevention of chemotherapy induced hair loss.

Patient Gail Chambers used the DigniCap® for her chemotherapy sessions at the hospital and said that losing her hair was one of the things she worried about most.

“Losing your hair from chemotherapy is a real reminder of your illness when you look in the mirror so it was a huge comfort to me to not have to deal with this side effect. My hair thinned slightly but that was it, so I was really delighted to have had the opportunity to use the machine,” Ms Chambers said.

The DigniCap® technology was generously funded through the St John of God Foundation by the Somas family and Audio Hub Subiaco.

The Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer, Nick Harvey says “Our patients deserve only the best; we are delighted to have been able to contribute to Gail’s experience thanks to the generosity of our donors.”


Benchmarking tool puts hospice at top

Some of the team at St John of God Murdoch Community Hospice

St John of God Murdoch Community Hospice is one of six services across Australia to achieve outstanding results against Australian benchmarks for palliative care.

Director Hospice and Palliative Medicine Services Alison Parr said the team has worked together to achieve this result through the benchmarks set and measured by the Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration (PCOC), a national program that helps service providers improve their care.

“I am extremely proud of our team and the excellent quality care they offer our patients and their families,” Dr Parr said.

“Our focus is on alleviating distress at the end of life and this tool helps us to ensure appropriate and timely responses to patient needs.”

The PCOC benchmarking process involves medical professionals scoring various aspects of patient’s wellbeing daily, and in the case of Murdoch Hospice, three times per day, to ascertain if treatment needs adjusting or team resources need reallocating. The scores assess the patient’s symptom, psychological and family and carer distress to determine any patterns.

PCOC then collates the data and benchmarks them against other inpatient hospice facilities of a similar size.

“This benchmarking system has enabled us to identify areas of patient care that needed attention so that we can deliver a service that focusses on the whole person – their physical, social, psychological and spiritual being, as well as their families.”

One of the areas in which the Hospice excelled was taking care of the needs of families and carers.

“If the family is coping well, then the patient tends to do better too,” Dr Parr said.

“There is evidence that demonstrates when families are supported appropriately during their loved one’s illness and death, they have better outcomes in bereavement too.”

The Hospice also scored well on how well their staff work together as a team.

“We have a strong multi-disciplinary approach to care in which our nurses, doctors and allied health professionals communicate often with each other and with the patient and their family to ensure that a patient-centred management plan is in place, addressing all aspects of need.”

“High quality clinical care, combined with counselling, social work, pastoral care and our Footprints Day Centre, which offers complementary therapies, diversional activities, relaxation, time out and someone to talk to, work towards giving our patients and their families the best possible experience during challenging times.”

“For some groups of patients, specialist palliative care intervention has been shown to improve prognosis for patients by as much as chemotherapy can too.”

The Murdoch Community Hospice is an integrated service that works closely with St John of God Murdoch Hospital to ensure the transition to hospice care is seamless. The team is planning to share its successful practices with other similar facilities.

Researcher’s care for patient outcomes recognised

Dr Gail Ross-Adjie, Nurse Researcher from St John of God Murdoch Hospital, has been selected as a finalist in the WA Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards for her outstanding contribution to research in health care.

“I am honoured to have my work recognised and I feel that we have made great strides in helping to deliver optimal care to our patients,” Dr Ross-Adjie says.

Dr Ross-Adjie’s early research work at Murdoch was the catalyst for the appointment of a Chair of Nursing Research and subsequent creation of the hospital’s Centre for Nursing and Midwifery Research, established in 2012 in collaboration with the University of Notre Dame’s School of Nursing and Midwifery.

“Since that time we have continued to work across both the public and private health sectors, collaborating with colleagues from other health disciplines both nationally and internationally,” Dr Ross-Adjie said.

“We believe that working this way maximises the benefits we can derive from our research and improves outcomes for both our patients and their families.”

The Centre is currently working on studies to better understand how older people can recover safely from their surgery without falls; profile the maternity health care needs of fly–in-fly-out families; explore staff and patient understanding of the emotional and spiritual aspects of hospital care; assist in improving the rates of breastfeeding duration and create of a series of informative videos to help cancer patients live well during and after treatment.

Dr Ross-Adjie’s PhD work involved the testing of a nursing bowel management protocol in patients who had knee or hip replacement surgery. Gail’s work in this area has profoundly impacted current bowel management across public and private sectors and the Murdoch Bowel Protocol© is now used both nationally and internationally to ensure patients return to normal bowel activity soon after surgery.

Due to the reduction in hospital length of stay after these procedures, the protocol is being revised with two different treatment regimens being compared to assess their effectiveness.

Dr Ross-Adjie was the inaugural recipient of the Reginald ‘Babe’ Norman PhD scholarship in 2010 and in 2016, she received further funds to enable further research into patient falls. She was responsible for St John of God Murdoch Hospital becoming the first WA hospital to gain endorsement as an evidence based organisation from the Joanna Briggs Institute and the first WA hospital to gain three year endorsement.

Director of Nursing Dani Meinema said Dr Ross-Adjie’s passion for improving outcomes for patients and their families has made her a great candidate for this award.

“Dr Ross-Adjie has worked tirelessly to put nurse-led research at the forefront of the hospital,” Ms Meinema says.

“She is also well-known as a mentor to nurses and midwives interested in research, supporting their ideas to enable good quality research in areas of need.”

WA Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards winners will be announced on 6 May 2017.

Study examines FIFO mums’ needs

Researchers at the St John of God Murdoch Hospital’s Centre for Nursing and Midwifery Research have embarked on a study to discover if new mothers who are fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers or whose partners are FIFO workers, have the same needs as those who are not FIFO workers.

The study will involve focus groups and surveys with new mothers who have recently delivered their babies at St John of God Murdoch, Subiaco and Bunbury hospitals so that both regional and metropolitan perspectives are recorded.

Previous research indicated that about 15.5% of maternity patients at St John of God Murdoch Hospital identified as having a FIFO partner (Reilly et al., 2015).

Dr Gail Ross-Adjie says the results from the study will inform how we deliver care to these new mothers in the ante-natal and early post-partum periods.

“We want to ensure we have everything in place to help these new mothers who might have not have all the support they need at home,” Dr Ross-Adjie says.

“Gaining their feedback will give us insight into exactly how we can better meet their needs.”

Weekly recycling initiative provides benefits for many

Stomal Therapy Nurse Kate Brereton, Warehouse Manager Gary Baxter and WA Ostomy Association volunteer Phillip Gregory.

The team at St John of God Murdoch Hospital has joined forces with the WA Ostomy Association in Mt Lawley to use the hospital’s recyclable materials to help transport medical devices used for stomas.

After volunteering at the Association, Stomal Therapy Nurse Kate Brereton realised instead of disposing of its plastics, including bubble wrap and plastic pouches, the hospital could give them to the Association.

“I contacted our warehouse manager who was more than happy to assist so we got the ball rolling and started a weekly donation,” Ms Brereton said.

“The Association do such amazing work in our community supporting those who live with stomas, that being able to help them, and be environmentally friendly, is a wonderful thing.”

The WA Ostomy Association is a voluntary, non-profit organisation that helps over 3000 West Australian people who live with a stoma. A stoma is an artificial opening on the abdomen wall used to collect waste after some surgeries for bowel or bladder cancers or inflammatory bowel diseases.

Phillip Gregory, volunteer at the Association, said it was often a challenge to find suitable packing materials that were both hygienic and effective for transport.

“We mail out approximately 400 parcels to our members each week,” Mr Gregory said.

“We had been using newspaper, which isn’t always in easy supply and not as hygienic as the bubble wrap and plastic pillows which we now have in plentiful supply.”

In combination with two other recycling initiatives, the weekly donation has had a significant impact on reducing the amount of landfill the St John of God Health Care warehouse produces. Only four or five months ago, the warehouse was sending three skip bins to landfill per week and now, it only sends one per week.

Videos to support patients through cancer treatment

Researchers at St John of God Murdoch Hospital are creating a series of informative videos to help cancer patients live well during and after treatment.

Professor Leanne Monterosso says the videos will be developed from feedback from interviews and study groups in which patients were asked about their experiences of having treatment and recovering from cancer.

“Our aim is to use this information to help us provide more support and information to improve the health and wellbeing of our patients,” Professor Monterosso says.

“It’s very helpful to be forearmed with useful information to make the journey a little easier.”

The first video in the series introduces patients to the hospital and Cancer Centre facilities and what they can expect when they arrive for treatment.

The video also outlines the treatment process, possible side effects and how to live healthily. The next four videos in the series will provide further information about diet and exercise and physiotherapy.

“Through extensive research studies conducted globally, we know that if you adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle during and after your treatment and take control of these areas of your life, your recovery and outcomes are far better,” Professor Monterosso says.

To reflect patients different needs at different stages of diagnosis, patients were interviewed at four points: at diagnosis, at three and six months after diagnosis and at the end of their treatment.

Patients will be able to access the videos online or watch them while they are undergoing treatment in the hospital’s Cancer Centre.

The project is funded by the University of Notre Dame, Fremantle’s Collaborative Research Networks Program and the St John of God Foundation.

St John of God Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer, Nick Harvey says “the health and wellbeing of the community is our primary focus and we are proud to support this valuable initiative.”

Making a difference to our community


Our valued volunteers provide a vital link between the hospital and the community. They give their time, expertise, skills and experience to help us provide our patients with the best possible care. We asked them why they give their precious time to our hospital?

I am a volunteer caregiver on St Francis Ward. I choose to volunteer at this hospital as after 30 years in the workforce, the enjoyment from caring for patients is very satisfying.

– Shirley

I am a volunteer caregiver on Bridget Clancy Ward assisting our patients. I have chosen to volunteer at Murdoch after retiring from a high pressure career. My mother was a long term patient at this hospital and I was able to observe the role of a volunteer. Volunteering is extremely fulfilling in that you are able to help  others in their time of need. My volunteering role is meaningful to me and adds value to my life.

– Noelle

We are volunteer caregivers and provide our services as Reiki Therapists. It gives us the opportunity to help people who pass through the doors of the hospice, whether patient, caregiver or family. It allows us to offer our Reiki for stress reduction and relaxation. We have become two of the many volunteers who can make a difference in someone’s life by offering a small portion of our time and skills.

– Gill and Tony





Becoming a volunteer caregiver on St Elizabeth’s ward has been a very rewarding experience as I value the positive influence and added worth volunteering has in a person’s life. It is heart-warming to witness a patient’s day being made a little brighter through a cup of tea or coffee and with each interaction between a patient, their family, caregiver and volunteer caregiver being precious and meaningful.

Volunteering has not only enriched my life but has also allowed me to recognise the importance of contributing to the community.

– Zoe



I am a volunteer caregiver in the Cancer Centre and I choose to volunteer at Murdoch Hospital after I was diagnosed with cancer five years ago but I am in remission.

I am no longer in paid work so I wanted to give something back and what better way than helping to bring a smile to the face of people you come into contact with. It is so rewarding that I am able to help others and so fulfilling in many ways.

– Sandy





We appreciate our volunteer caregivers and all they do for our patients.

The volunteers are indispensable to us. In the chaos of a busy ward, it means the world to the patients to have a friendly volunteer who has the time to do those little things to make their stay more pleasant. They are the helping hand to assist patients that makes a world of difference.

– Irene, Nurse Unit Manager, St Francis ward

Our volunteers take our level of hospitality up another notch, smiling, caring and engaging.

– Marie, Nurse Unit Manager, Cancer Centre




Doctor lauded for drive and commitment to patient care

CEO John Fogarty and this year's Doctor of the Year, Dr David Borshoff.

CEO John Fogarty and this year’s Doctor of the Year, Dr David Borshoff.

St John of God Murdoch Hospital’s Doctor of the Year was awarded to Director of Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine Dr David Borshoff, for his dedication to the patients at the hospital, his team and the smooth running of his department.

Chief Executive Officer John Fogarty said Dr Borshoff had contributed to a great deal to the hospital since taking on his directorial role in January last year.

“In this short time, his passion for providing the highest standard of care to our patients has become evident in the work he undertakes here,” Mr Fogarty said.

“He is a man with great energy and Murdoch hospital has been the beneficiary of this drive to make things happen with the very best outcomes.”

Dr Borshoff has had a huge impact on improving the operating of the anaesthetic department and his natural leadership qualities have been very successful in empowering and developing staff at the hospital. Those close to him say he makes Murdoch a great place to work.

“Driven, caring, generous of his time and a wonderful leader, we are very lucky to have Dr Borshoff working at our hospital and to have someone who is so committed to making St John of God Murdoch Hospital the very best it can be,” Mr Fogarty said.

Dr Borshoff, who has been accredited at the hospital since 1998, was delighted to receive the award which was given to him at the annual Christmas party held in late November at a marquee by the lake at the hospital.