National Palliative Care Week runs from 21 May to 27 May and aims to put ‘Matters of Life and Death’ front and center in Australia’s consciousness.
Despite being an established component of the human health care system, palliative care is a newly emerging field in the Australian veterinary industry and one which Sunset Vets has pioneered.
Similar to human palliative health care options, palliative care for pets refers to the ideals of ensuring patient comfort even if curative medicine is no longer possible, providing access to individualised age-appropriate health care and supporting families through the difficulties of end-of-life decision making.
Dr Jackie Campbell, Australia’s first Internationally Certified Palliative Care Veterinarian (CHPV) and the founder of Sunset Vets is passionate about ensuring older and terminally ill pets have access to this critical type of care and is leading a growing industry conversation about its impact.
"Sunset Vets works in partnership with primary health veterinary clinics to deliver additional expertise and guidance"
“The goal of Sunset Vets is to work in partnership with primary health veterinary clinics to deliver additional expertise and guidance to both families and veterinary clinics facing end-of-life decisions. We know this is a challenging time for all parties.
“Although heartbreaking for pet owners to consider, our aim is to ensure that more families have access to the type of compassionate care and counselling support that Sunset Vets is recognised for.”
The compassionate care offered by Sunset Vets was critical for Rosie Overfield when her terrier cross Millie was diagnosed with heart disease in 2019.
“Sunset Vets had already provided end-of-life care to three of my senior cats, so I knew their services was something that I wanted when we received Millie’s terminal diagnosis.
"I appreciated Sunset Vet’s bond centered care model which meant they cared for me as much as Millie"
“Dr Jackie managed Millie’s pain, her dementia and her environment including advice on how to set up our home to support her. Millie’s care was always spoken about very openly and it was open to change according to her needs as well as my own.
“This meant developing a care plan that allowed me to feel in control and supported.
“I appreciated Sunset Vet’s bond centered care model which meant they cared for me as much as Millie.
“Together Dr Jackie and I were able to make decisions about Millie’s end-of-life care, and the open communication and education that was provided took the fear of the unknown away for me. It helped enormously when I was dealing with the grief of her passing.”
Rosie said goodbye to beautiful Millie at the end of 2020. Sunset Vets provided palliative care for one and a half years alongside the support of a veterinary cardiac specialist and her primary care Veterinarian.
The theme of this year’s National Palliative Care Week is ‘Matters of Life and Death’ and Sunset Vets exists to encourage more of these conversations between pet owners and their vets.
“This week serves as an opportunity to build awareness within the community that care of this nature is available for animal lovers wishing to develop their end-of-life care plan and for those wanting to say a gentle, but supported goodbye at home,” said Dr Jackie.
“Sunset Vets has Veterinarians located across the country and we have recently expanded into Melbourne and Sydney in response to the demand from pet owners wanting the very best of care for their four-legged family members.
“We continue to focus on improving and maintaining quality-of-life in the face of age or illness, supporting owners through the difficulties of end-of-life decision making and encouraging families to treasure those final weeks and moments with their pets.”
Sunset Vets services are available in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.