6th April 2020

A happy, smiling face and an engaging personality, underpinned by genuine warmth and a desire to support those living with cancer make Melanie Farr the ideal nurse for Bloomhill.

Mel has only been with Bloomhill a month, but there is as sense she is already part of the framework, taking on clients and supporting them through their cancer journey.

“I love helping people,” Mel says. “I know that sounds corny, but it’s true. It makes me smile when I can help someone.”

And that desire to help comes through in everything Mel says.

Personal experience led to Mel choosing to work in oncology, haematology and palliative care.

While her father survived cancer, she lost a close school friend to bone cancer almost two years ago. Watching her friend as he was supported through palliative care helped Mel decide that was what she wanted to do. 

“I watched his palliative care nurses and thought, I want to be like them. In the final stages it’s about quality not quantity, they need to enjoy their time. Palliative care helps with symptom management and gives support for pain and anxiety.”

Mel says she works with cancer patients in part “to honour him”. And adds, “I can relate to patients. I do get it. To be there through the highs and lows is really special.”

Mel explains how she and the other Bloomhill nurses get to know a new client.  “Once a client is registered they complete a form so we can find out what’s going on. They are assigned a Registered Nurse and we sit down in the private consultation room and have a conversation.”

Part of the review includes the Distress Thermometer Wellness Wheel, which rates mental, physical, social and spiritual distress a client may be experiencing, as well as problems they have encountered recently relating to physical aspects, practical, family and emotional.

“This lets us know what we can help them with,” Mel says. “It gives us a baseline and from there we take a holistic approach and create a very individualised plan.

“Perhaps transport is a struggle and we can help them with that. Some clients will want counselling support, others are looking for meditation and yoga classes.

“We make internal referrals and explain how to access services and any costs. We advise of support groups and we link them with other services if we can’t provide what they need.”

Mel says some clients may have a support person with them, a partner or carer: “this is good because we can offer services for them as well”.

After this first consultation Mel sends a follow-up email and creates a Wellness Plan. She says if she hasn’t heard back from a client after two weeks she contacts them, “even if it’s just for conversational chat. I say ‘come to Bloomhill, have a coffee and a catch-up’.”

In her open and engaging way Mel says, “I’m new and fresh. I have never worked in a workplace like this before. What Bloomhill does is amazing.”

Outside nursing, Mel plays basketball – she used to play with the USC Rip. She and her partner of 10 years – they met in high school – live on Bribie Island in a house they are renovating and they have a Golden Retriever pup Theo she happily says, “takes up a lot of time.”

Mel works at Bloomhill on Monday and Tuesday and at the Mater Private Hospital Brisbane in oncology, haematology and palliative care. She says the two “complement each other perfectly”.