Toowoomba Pastoral Care Team Help Patient Attend Father’s Funeral

Thanks to telehealth technology and the support of Anglican pastoral carers, a Toowoomba Hospital patient has attended the funeral of her father despite being in the critical care unit.

Anglican Hospital Pastoral Care Coordinator at Toowoomba Hospital David Johnstone was made aware that patient Healen Jackson wanted to attend the funeral of her beloved father who had passed away while she was in hospital.

The pastoral care team came up with the idea of using technology to allow Mrs Jackson to view the funeral from her hospital bed so she could pay her respects in real time.

“Healen was very close to her father and was determined to attend his funeral even though she was unwell,” he said.

“I was spurred on to find a solution because not only was Healen recovering from an operation, but the funeral was being held in Windorah which is a long 12-hour drive from Toowoomba.”

David said the pastoral care team consulted Carrie Bourke, Clinical Nurse Consultant from the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service telehealth service, to see if there was a way to connect to the funeral using technology.

“We set up a PEXIP link on Healen’s cousin’s phone,” he said.

“When her cousin arrived at the funeral, Healen was able to login via a tablet we provided for her and view the proceedings and feel very much part of the occasion.”

The technology worked perfectly and Healen watched the funeral in her hospital bed surrounded by family members, flowers and photos of her father.

Healen said she was so pleased it could be done.

“It felt like I was a part of the day because I could see all the people there and could listen to the stories that were told,” she said.

Healen said that she was happy to see that her father, who worked as a cattle musterer for much of his life, was buried with his trusty hat and stockwhip – but there was also a surprise in store for her.

“I was shocked to see that my brother and his children led the procession from the funeral service to the cemetery on horseback!” she said.

“My dad would have loved that because he was a real bushman and it was so special to be able to see it.”

David said that the success of the funeral link has made him think about how the Toowoomba Hospital’s pastoral care team could make a greater impact using technology.

“We could talk to palliative care patients who have gone home or support people in rural towns or train new pastoral carers to support even more patients,” he said.

“There are many possibilities.”