Great Lakes Hospice Palliative Care Support Service

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Great Lakes Hospice is a local charity formed in 1989 that raises money to enhance the provision of Palliative Care services in the Great Lakes Area.

Past president Elizabeth Fisher OAM spoke about the early years of Great Lakes Hospice during the Compassionate Communities Symposium in Sydney, 21st February 2017. 

“Community meetings were held to talk about the local need for a hospice. Although there was great support for what was to become the “Cottage Hospice” initiative, many local folk were too busy to invest a lot of time in establishing and running a facility, and support dwindled to a dedicated few. In the early days, the vision was to purchase and then staff a small hospice facility. Laurel Cottage, a three bedded facility, was established in Forster and was used for a short time.

“Unfortunately, ongoing funding was not possible, and we were advised it had to be a nine bed hospice for it to be economically viable. So instead, we sold the cottage hospice, invested the money, and ever since we have used that money to support people to stay in their own homes; so, our money now is used not on bricks and mortar, but on providing a whole range of services that enable people to die in their own home or at least be at home for as long as possible.”

Deidre Stokes, current President, recalls how much assistance the Great Lakes Hospice has given to patients living in the Great Lakes. Prior to retirement, Deidre had worked as a Community Palliative Care Nurse for over 20 years. 

“I had the privilege to see firsthand the assistance and services that were provided by Great Lakes Hospice in order to enhance the quality of life of our patients and to assist those facing one of the most difficult times of their life. 

“As a charity we receive no government funding; we have a hard working Auxiliary that conducts regular fundraising activities such as garage sales, fashion parades, raffles and the annual Trivia night, which is always popular. We have a major fundraiser coming up for Melbourne Cup Day – our thanks to Tuncurry Beach Bowling Club for supporting us in this way. We also have amazing community support from service and sporting clubs, as well as individuals that make regular donations towards our work. 

“The Matt Nixon Golf Day, held annually for 16 years, has donated over $150,000 to our organisation. What an amazing tribute to Matt, his family, friends and colleagues.”

Well, what is the money used for? We provide an equipment pool and loan equipment out at no cost to the user. This includes portable oxygen concentrators that allow patients to go out of their home, whether for appointments, to visit friends or just to get outside the house. Earlier this year we donated a concentrator to the Bulahdelah team for the use of patients in their area.

We provide extra services like assistance with personal care, domestic assistance and cover the costs of medications, social work, podiatry and physiotherapy visits for those who are in financial need.  Referrals for assistance come from the Community Palliative Care Team, and all requests are considered on an individual needs basis. We have provided education opportunities, including scholarships, to enhance the knowledge of our local care providers. We can also assist with the cost of respite care, should that be required. Currently we spend $70,000 per year on service provision.

A few years ago Deidre recalled having a patient at Nabiac who had run out of water and didn’t have any money until his sickness benefit came in the following week. Great Lakes Hospice paid for his water tank to be filled, an unusual request, but one that made a huge difference to that family.

We have a Wig Service for Oncology patients. Charmaine Barraclough does a wonderful job by providing support to patients losing their hair as a result of cancer treatment. Charmaine visits, advises on the choice of a wig, places the order and follows up the patient with the provision of the wig at no cost to the patient. Many people report the wonderful support they have received from Charmaine through this service.

Get in touch with Great Lakes Hospice: Great Lakes Hospice inc.,
PO Box 163,
Forster 2428.
Ph 0437 830 818.

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