Galahs make Sujay's palliative care journey easier

Sujay Singh and his two pet galahs, Jill and Jerry, are inseparable – he has had them for about 10 years. So when Sujay needed admission to HammondCare’s Neringah Hospital for pain management last month, he wanted Jill and Jerry there too.

HammondCare accommodated Sujay’s request and provided a single room where the birds could roam in and out of their cage. They even accompanied Sujay in the shower – “they really enjoy it!”

“I know my wife and son love me but they can’t be with me all the time, but the birds can,” Sujay said. The galahs are a two bird party. They are chatty, mimic Sujay’s laugh and with the right Indian music soundtrack, they’ll even bop along. Mr Singh said: “They know that I’m sick. When I’m asleep or resting they know not to make any noise. They are very quiet in hospital”.

A former council ranger, Mr Singh is a HammondCare community palliative care outpatient receiving treatment at home for life-limiting cancer of the mandible. Neringah Nurse Unit Manager Michelle Griffiths said HammondCare was happy to agree to Mr Singh’s request to ensure his time at Neringah was as comfortable as possible. Ms Griffiths said individualised care management that includes the special needs of each patient sometimes might mean permitting a patient to bring along a pet.

While dogs and cats are not uncommon in the Neringah wards, galahs are a first!

“We are mindful there always needs to be parameters with pets in hospitals, such as patients or family taking full responsibility for pet care and minimising disruption for other patients and staff,” Ms Griffiths said.
One condition for Sujay was that a sign needed to be placed on his door indicating when the birds were out of their cage.

Diversional therapist Hanna Tsoi said Jill and Jerry provided plenty of laughs for patients and staff during their stay with Sujay at Neringah. “You could watch the birds do their best to cheer him up – it was wonderful to see,” Ms Tsoi said.