One of our finest nurses

7 June 1956 – 20 February 2009

With the passing of Lyn Taylor on 20 February 2009, palliative care in western Sydney lost one of its finest practitioners – a dedicated nurse who had worked tirelessly with both patients and their carers to bring peace and dignity to the very ill.

Lyn’s distinguished nursing career commenced in 1977 when she started her general nurse training at Wollongong Hospital. Following registration three years later, Lyn joined the staff in the Orthopaedic Ward at the newly-opened Westmead Hospital. However, it was in the Haematology/Oncology Unit where Lyn was appointed Nursing Unit Manager, a position she held for four years, that she began her concentration and specialisation in oncology nursing. During her time as Nursing Unit Manager, Lyn provided leadership for the oncology and bone marrow transplant patients and she was closely involved in establishing the haematology/oncology refresher course for registered nurses as well as writing and reviewing the policies and procedures that guided nursing practice.

Lyn spent a short time working in the community in Adelaide and soon realised the important contribution this aspect of care provided for patients. She decided that rather than stay in the acute setting she would concentrate on patient care in the home and in 1985 she took on the role of Community Palliative Care/Oncology Nurse for the Holroyd/Parramatta/Baulkham Hills Local Government areas. It was here that Lyn was instrumental in having the position regraded to Clinical Nurse Consultant. Lyn’s passion for palliative care and oncology nursing was now well established and she remained in this field for the rest of her working life, taking on a CNC role in Baulkham Hills Shire and then in 2000 with the Sydney Melanoma Unit.

Lyn always believed in the value of ongoing education, not only for herself, but also for her colleagues, encouraging them to engage in additional learning opportunities. She was constantly working toward improving the care for her patients and many colleagues spoke warmly of the endless compassion and patience Lyn displayed in pursuit of better patient care.

Lyn had assisted in re-writing the Palliative Care Procedure Manual working in association with the Palliative Care Nurses’ Association and in conjunction with the NSW Cancer Council and The College of Nursing and had been involved with writing a booklet for nurses who are dealing with patients who have been given ‘bad news’. She had also been actively involved with many Palliative Care/Oncology-related Committees across NSW as well as developing quality assurance tools and policies for the Community Health Accreditation & Standards Program (CHASP) and the Australian Council on Health Care Standards (ACHS).

Lyn was an elected member to the Nurses and Midwives Board of NSW and an advisor for the Board to the Nurse Practitioner project. She was also a Director of the Lions Club Scholarship Foundation.

Lyn worked tirelessly with both the Westmead and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Melanoma Units to ensure that both Units provided an appropriate, timely and quality service for patients.

Working as part of the oncology and palliative care teams, Lyn was acknowledged by her patients for her boundless compassion coupled with the expertise and experience to help them through a most difficult time in their lives.

Lyn was recently rewarded with the inaugural Distinguished Service Award in recognition of outstanding service to patients and their carers by the Melanoma Institute of Australia.

Further acknowledgement of Lyn’s outstanding contribution to palliative care nursing has been the creation of the ‘Lyn Taylor Memorial Award’, which is to be presented annually by the NSW Palliative Care Association for leadership in palliative care.

Lyn was ‘a rare breed’ and she enriched the lives of everyone she met.  All her friends and colleagues feel so fortunate they were honoured to know and love her.

By Kathy Baker, Adjunct Professor, UTS and UWS