Palliative Care Queensland

Outstanding Achievement by a Volunteer in Palliative Care – Keri Wassenaar

For over 15 years, Keri Wassener has been a champion, inspiration, supporter, carer, advocate and legend for Karuna Hospice Services, personifying everything that the organisation stands for and values.

A support volunteer since 2006 and volunteer biographer since 2011, Keri is the volunteer that every organisation wishes they could call upon. Dedicated in her approach, generous with her time and resources, self-aware and reflective in her practices, Keri is an inspiration to all around her.

Soon after completing Karuna’s Palliative Care Support Volunteer training in 2006, Keri began providing support to clients. This role involved companioning clients in their home, taking them on outings or to appointments, as well as providing practical assistance within the home.

As part of her commitment as a Palliative Care Support Volunteer, Keri was also willing to participate in Karuna’s internal review of the impact of long-term volunteering on home-based palliative care volunteering.

In 2011, Keri undertook Karuna’s Client Biography Programme training. In the 10 years to follow, Keri has been involved with 53 clients, either as a biographer (31 occasions) or as an editor (22 occasions) giving in excess of 1600 hours, providing a priceless opportunity for Karuna’s  palliative clients to reflect on and come to terms with their lives, as well as leave memories for their loved ones, if this is what they want.

Keri has also volunteered and represented Karuna at other events, including collaborations such as Good Life Good Death expo and the Griffith Biography (a project that teaches university students to undertake biography in aged care).

Keri is a joy to work with, and typically, her reaction is that ‘she receives more from her connections with clients than she gives.’

We caught up with Keri to find out what winning the 2021 Palliative Care in Queensland Outstanding Achievement by a Volunteer in Palliative Care means.

What does winning a 2021 Palliative Care in Qld Award mean to you?

Receiving this award acknowledges how fortunate I am to have the conditions in place to play a part in the biography work we do for our clients. The award also acknowledges the value of this work. In a world where talking about death and dying in many ways is avoided at all cost, this kind of award stimulates awareness and conversation. Go Palliative Care Queensland!

How does it feel to be recognised for your contribution to Palliative Care in Qld?

I feel humbled by this award. May it inspire others.

Who would you like to thank or acknowledge as part of your award win?

I would like to thank Karuna Hospice Service, in particularly Carmel Williams and Coralie Hornby for their tireless and innovative efforts to keep our program going, and growing through these difficult times. I would also like to thank our clients for trusting us in the sharing of the story of their lives. Thank you to each and every one of you.

Read about all 2021 Palliative Care in Queensland Statewide Award winners by visiting our website:

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