Mother's dying wish inspires woman's award-winning work

Jodi Hamilton's mum always told her the roar of a Royal Flying Doctor Service plane was the sound of a lifeline.

Ms Hamilton's mother Barbara Shephard was a nurse in the remote Queensland town of Coen for five decades, often working hand-in-hand with the aeromedical service.

One of her last jobs was overseeing the medical evacuation of her husband, who suffered burns to 30 per cent of his body in an accident 13 years ago.

He survived as a result of their work.

"It's just part of rural life, people don't survive without that retrieval," Ms Hamilton said of her family's experience.

"Everyone has a story about the RFDS."

Then six years ago the RFDS helped grant Mrs Shephard's dying wish to spend the last weeks of her life in her own home.

The service's Cairns GP checked in on her, while a family friend took on a nursing contract to support her at home.

Ms Hamilton said it meant a lot to her family to be there in those last weeks.

"It was everything - it was her last wish and us being able to grant that wish," Ms Hamilton said.

"It was really calming and it helps a lot with the grieving process because you get a whole lot of acceptance.

"You get time."

It inspired Ms Hamilton to explore improved palliative services for the Coen community, informed by her administration work at the local primary health care centre.

Most people are flown 500km away to Cairns for end-of-life treatment, leaving their families behind, or are nursed by relatives in often overcrowded houses.

Ms Hamilton is working to establish a community palliative care centre in the old Coen hospital.

A small team has developed a concept called the "palli-pod", in which portable homes could be fitted with medical equipment to allow Indigenous people to die on country.

Part of her work is also raising awareness about the care available through the RFDS.

"You can have someone pass away comfortably at home," Ms Hamilton said.

"It can be done, and done in a lovely way."

Her work has earnt her the Queensland service's local hero award for the Cairns region.

Others recognised include Townsville pilot Georgie Arnold, Charleville healthcare worker and volunteer Rose Basiuk, and the century-old Queensland Country Women's Association central western division.

The nine winners embody the spirit of service and compassion, RFDS Queensland section chief executive Meredith Staib said.

"There are unsung heroes in every region whose remarkable achievements often go unnoticed, yet the impact of their hard work and dedication is felt deeply in their local communities," Ms Staib said.

An overall winner will be decided by public vote.