Veronika Plinte has always been interested in health, but it wasn’t until several family members were admitted as patients to Cabrini, that she became actively involved in healthcare as a carer.
Ms Plinte has been part of Cabrini’s Patient and Family Register for the past three years after responding to an advertisement in Connect Magazine.
“When I saw the ad asking for people, my first thought was ‘that is fantastic, it’s now an opportunity for me to give back’, because the hospital had helped my family and maybe I could do something as well. I’d just finished selling my business and wanted to do something worthwhile.”
Since joining, Ms Plinte has been involved in projects involving communications and marketing areas, workshops and focus groups.
“It has been a privilege to be a consumer representative during the launch of major developments such as the opening of the Gandel Wing and the refreshment of the Cabrini website. There has been a lot of work done in all our meetings, as well as brochures and communication that have been updated for future consumers. To see results is a real highlight and reason to stay involved.”
Ms Plinte described being part of Cabrini’s PFR as “very satisfying”, and said it made her think about healthcare with the consumer in mind.
“When people you know and love have been involved as consumers at Cabrini, it is great to know that you can contribute to make things better. And who knows, you could become a patient yourself one day, and see that you have actually been instrumental in seeing improvements made – is just so rewarding.”
Another reason Ms Plinte said she wanted to get involved was as a way to give back. She said she believed it was important in life to give back to the community and healthcare was an area where this was possible.
“It’s just so satisfying to be able to make a difference and to give back the things that you have received. It’s part of the community spirit.”Join the register
They say that only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have, a quote which couldn’t ring truer for Judy Joel.
Mrs Joel became a volunteer at Cabrini in August 2007 as a way to give back to her local community. She became a Patient and Family Register (PFR) member when it was established in 2011.
She has been a dedicated member ever since and said part of the reason she joined was because she and her husband had spent a lot of time in various hospitals across Australia and overseas.
Mrs Joel said since joining the PFR she had been involved in research, patient feedback, focus groups and patient experience week.
“I’ve always given back to the community but this opportunity to me was probably more personal because my husband was in here (Cabrini) for nearly a year,” Mrs Joel said.
“And when you’re in (a hospital), it doesn’t matter how good the organisation is, things happen that shouldn’t happen and to me my volunteering here has been in a small part, in memory of him because he died a year later.”
The Malvern East resident said she loved that by being part of Cabrini’s PFR she was listened to and able to provide valuable feedback.
“I’d like to think I’m contributing to making the hospital a better place for the patients that are coming in now and for me it’s so empowering to be able to do that,” she said.
“To me I think whatever you give, you always get much more back.”
Mrs Joel said one of the biggest rewards was seeing projects that she had been part of implemented within the hospital. She said she would encourage anyone who had been a patient at Cabrini, or a carer or family member, to join the PFR.
“You’re giving people an opportunity to give feedback and make things better. Another reason for me staying involved for so long is because the staff are fantastic, everybody here that I’ve dealt with – it doesn’t matter who it is – are very, very appreciative. I’ve never found a group as appreciative as I have at Cabrini, it does feel nice. You don’t do it for that, but it does feel nice.”
For more than three years Niki Petousis has divided her time between her fraternal twins, a full-time corporate job, and volunteering at Cabrini – and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Ms Petousis is one of more than 45 volunteers who make up the Cabrini Patient and Family Register, a group dedicated to improving services to achieve our vision of being ‘the first choice for care’.
The 51-year-old said she initially became involved with the group after her son underwent surgery at Cabrini. Ms Petousis said after providing feedback to staff, they were able to turn the situation around and ensure a better experience for others in similar situations. Following that, Ms Petousis was asked if she would like to join the Patient and Family Register.
“I thought ‘yea, let’s give it a try’, and I was really warmly surprised at what was involved and I was really keen to make a difference and give back to a hospital that cares about so many people,” Ms Petousis said.
“It’s great when you can give back and it’s a way of saying thank you.”
She said highlights of being part of the group so far included meeting new people and learning along the way.
Ms Petousis said she some of the projects she had been involved in so far included providing feedback on patient-centred documents regarding losing a family member, the new food menu and the website refresh.
“You get a lot of diversity and you make friends along the way too. I actually really look forward to it, and even if I can’t come in, I’ve dialled in to meetings and attended,” she said.
“It’s really rewarding and actually really humbling because you just don’t realise the depth and breadth the hospital goes to, to make sure that every experience is a good experience.
“It’s horrible when you’re sick but they go above and beyond to make sure that you are so well thought of, looked after both medically and emotionally and also the family. It really broadens your understanding of what’s involved and you meet some amazing people and it just feels good to give.”
Ms Petousis said each volunteer was like a piece of a puzzle, and when everyone came together it created “a beautiful outcome”.
“Everyone has something to give, and that’s the beauty of this. What people don’t realise is how much they’re going to get back, it’s invaluable.”Join the register
For more than three years Alison Monotti has been a member of Cabrini’s Patient and Family Register. Alison said she loves being involved in different projects and knowing she is helping to make a difference is an added bonus.
“The reason why I think the program works so well is because you can pick and choose the projects that interest you and fit them in with your other commitments. I think that’s essential to its success,” Alison said.
“And you meet wonderful, energetic people who make their area of expertise accessible to everyone involved. I do admire Cabrini and what it does in the community.”
Alison said she found every project “rewarding and stimulating”, and a particular highlight had been the Future Research Funding Workshop. “It was great, in terms of the sorts of projects that are being pursued and the impressive people behind them,” she said.
Alison is also a dedicated volunteer for the Cabrini palliative care biography service. She meets with patients every week for six weeks, listening, recording and compiling their biographies. "I love meeting with patients who share their story, their photographs and relive the important moments – it’s quite joyful and also a great privilege.”
"Cabrini’s Patient and Family Register needs volunteers from a range of backgrounds to assist from both a consumer and patient perspective,' Alison said. “All of these projects are incredibly interesting and of course it is always great to meet people while helping a wonderful hospital.”Join the register