Boxes to remind: You are not alone

One time it was a mother of seven children who has very little support and is suffering from cancer.

Another time it was a father of four who has terminal cancer and was in the final stages of his journey.

More recently it’s been the families who have found themselves at the Ipswich Hospital in the Palliative Care Unit.

Those that find themselves on a difficult journey, will find support in an Ipswich charity that helps by sorting the children’s school lunches.

Lisa’s Lunches is a volunteer program sustained by donations from residents and the Lisa’s Lunches Facebook community.

Lisa’s Lunches is named in memory of Lisa Heuston, who passed away at Ipswich Hospital in 2017 after living with cancer.

Organiser Jacqui Martin, a close former workmate of Lisa, said her friend would make lunches for teachers to distribute to students who went to school without food.

When Lisa was diagnosed with cancer, her friends decided to support her and her family in kind, by organising packed lunches for Lisa’s children so the family had one fewer burden to carry.

Ms Martin said the Lisa’s Lunches movement continued to grow after Lisa’s death, and they have since donated more than 10,000 lunches to support Ipswich families affected by cancer.

Lisa’s Lunches volunteers have recently made dozens of Palliative Care Boxes to comfort family and friends keeping a bedside vigil of a loved one who is at the end of their life at Ipswich Hospital.

Palliative Care Nurse Unit Manager Melanie McBain said the boxes would be given to loved ones who were supporting people during end-of-life care at Ipswich Hospital as a comforting reminder that they are not alone at a significant time in their lives.

“When people arrive by the bedside of a loved one, sometimes they are not prepared to stay for long but end up staying 24 or 48 hours, so items like toothbrushes, toothpaste and hand cream are gratefully received,’’ Ms McBain said.

“It is very touching for a patient’s supporter to think there are people in the community who are caring for them at that time – not just their families and health workers but people in the broader community too.’’

The plan to expand on the Lisa’s Lunches venture and support people in the Palliative Care Unit was already in motion when COVID restrictions prompted a fast-tracked response, Ms McBain said.

When hospital visits were restricted during the escalated COVID response, people visiting the Palliative Care Unit were confined to the room of their loved one and were unable to share communal tea rooms.

Ms Martin said she put out a call on Facebook for assistance in supplying the Palliative Care Unit with five kettles.

“Twelve minutes – that’s how long it took for supporters to answer the request via the Lisa’s Lunches Facebook page,” Ms Martin said.

“We are so grateful to this amazing community. No request is ever a problem.”

Now the army of supporters have provided donations including toiletries, socks, crosswords and adult colouring books, tea bags, long-life milk, cereal and snacks for each Palliative Care Box.

For more information, visit the Lisa’s Lunches Facebook group.

To donate groceries such as: small boxes of sultanas, muesli bar, mini chocolate, poppers, mini water, chips, shapes or tiny teddies, drop off at 25 Murphy Street, Ipswich.

Read also:

>>> How an Ipswich doctor is improving end-of-life care

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One Comment

  1. How fortunate are we to have people like Jacqui Martin and her fellow Lis’a Lunches volunteers. It is such an inspirational story and one that makes me proud to be part of a community that truly does care about the welfare of others. May your kindness, compassion and goodwill have a far reaching effect throughout our city.

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