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Black hole dominates future of new Hospice

16 January 2008


For immediate release

Black hole dominates future of new Hospice

A large, empty, black hole that sits beneath a new palliative care facility in Red Beach is attracting a lot of praise from the community that helped build it.

Likened to a supermarket carpark, the empty space is an insurance policy that is expected to pay out big time over the next 10 to 20 years.

Hibiscus Coast Hospice Charitable Trust Chairman Howard Jury explains.

“Six years ago when we started this project we visited other hospices around the country and discovered that after a decade or so most were having to raise substantial amounts of money to build more patients’ rooms.

“Our brief to the architects was to future proof the building in such a way that we would avoid this dilemma for at least twenty years or more,” he says.

The result is a large open space, which at minimal cost, will double the patient bedroom capacity of the brand new Hospice.

On Tuesday January 29th the Honourable Anand Satyanand, Governor-General of New Zealand, will officially open the new building.

The 2,500 sqm. building cost $7m to build and includes six bedrooms, a day clinic, lounge, two large meeting rooms, a chapel and administration areas.

Several hundred people are expected to attend among them families who have had loved-ones cared for by the Hibiscus Coast Hospice nurses.

“Since 1992 we have provided a community-based service with most patients being cared for at home by our nursing team.

“The new facility will change this. We can now run day clinics and as soon as funds become available our six bedrooms will be used for respite care,” explains Mr Jury.

At this stage Mr Jury is unsure as when the Trust will be able to offer a 24/7 service but is hopeful it could be as early as 2009.

Also among the guests will be representatives from charitable and gambling trusts who made significant contributions towards building costs.

Mr Jury says that like so many other charities Hibiscus Coast Hospice would not be able to provide a community palliative care service without the financial support of philanthropic organisations.

Guests of honour include Hospice NZ CEO Mary Schumacher. Hospice NZ represents the interests of the country’s 37 hospices and Ms Schumacher says the opening of the new hospice is a milestone to be celebrated nationally.

“Last year alone more than 8000 patients and their families used hospice services in New Zealand and over the past few years the numbers of patients using hospice services has increased by 41 percent.

“This new facility is yet another indication of just how important it is that people living with a terminal inclines have access to specialised palliative care,” says Ms Schumacher.



Q . Where is the Hibiscus Coast Hospice?

A . We are at 2A John Dee Crescent, Red Beach. Our patients are cared for by our nurses in their own homes. Our nurses are available for emergency advice 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Q . Why does the new Hospice only need six bedrooms?

A . During a period of a terminal illness most patients prefer to be at home where they can be cared for by their loved ones and the Hospice nursing team. However, should symptoms become acute, or should the primary caregiver become exhausted, the patient is then admitted into Hospice for a stay of between one to two weeks.

Q . How many patients does Hibiscus Coast Hospice care for each year?

Over the past three years Hibiscus Coast Hospice has experienced a 57 percent growth in patient numbers. 04/05 = 102; 05/06 = 149; 06/07 = 161 and to year ending June 30th 2008 patient numbers are forecast to exceed 170. At any one time the clinical team is caring for 75 to 80 patients in the community.

Q . How are patients referred to Hospice?

A . Their GP, District Nurse, Cancer Society, Hospitals or Clergy may refer a patient. Alternatively a family member may contact the Hospice for help and assistance, provided the patient gives consent.

Q . What happens when a patient is referred to Hospice?

A . The patient is assessed using a holistic approach that includes emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual needs. This process also considers the care and needs of the family/whanau. The nursing team is highly skilled in symptom management issues and integrates these along with the advice and input of the patient’s GP. Other core services are explained and referrals are made that may include access to a home care volunteer, use of specialist equipment, complimentary therapies, etc. Hospice ethos is adhered to in accordance with the proscribed standards of palliative care service. The patient’s own needs are paramount in this assessment.

Q . Other than nursing / medical support, what other services does Hibiscus Coast Hospice provide?

A . The Hospice team includes a family support counsellor who works with families and loved ones coping with grief. A social worker assists patients and families facing financial hardship as a result of the main income earner being diagnosed with a terminal illness. The Hospice chaplain provides spiritual support. These services are part of the hospice tradition of providing medical, spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical support to all those affected (directly or indirectly) by a terminal illness.

Q . What happens if a patient cannot be cared for in their own home?

A . If the patient is unable to stay at home because their illness becomes unmanageable they can be admitted to a local private hospital or rest home. They remain under the care of the Hibiscus Coast Hospice nursing team during this time.

Q . People go to Hospice to die don't they?

A . No. Our specially trained Palliative Care nurses focus on comfort and quality of life. They manage symptoms and assist families as they come to terms with the impending changes in their lives - including grief and bereavement support. We offer a wide range of services to assist patients and families. In New Zealand more terminally ill patients die at home than hospice.

Q . Is the Hospice owned by the Hospital or the Government?

A . Neither. The Hibiscus Coast Hospice is owned by the Hibiscus Coast community and operated on their behalf by a Charitable Trust.

Q . What is the cost of a Hospice nurse visit?

A . Core Hospice services are available to all terminally ill people in our community at no cost to the patient or their families. However, there may be some additional costs such as extra equipment, etc.

Q . Where does the money come from? Nothing is free!

A . It costs a lot to run a service like Hospice. Currently just 25 percent of our funding comes from a government grant via the Waitemata District Health Board. Our four Shoppes contribute 50 percent and the remaining 25 percent comes from donations, events, bequests, charitable trusts and the support of many local clubs, organisations, businesses and individuals.

Q . What are Hospice Shoppes?

A . People assist us by donating clothes, furniture, and household items they no longer need. These are then sold through our four Shoppes which are staffed largely by volunteers.

Q . Do you just care for older patients?

A . No. Our patients have ranged in age from 10 days to 102 years. Regrettably, from time-to-time we have patients in their 30's and 40's, often with children. The Us Group was established just for kids who have lost, or are about to lose, someone close to a terminal illness.

Q . Do you only take cancer patients?

A . No. Anyone suffering from a progressive terminal illness - heart disease, motor neurone disease, end stage renal failure and other active progressive diseases. Currently 23 percent of our patients have a non-cancer condition and this number is expected to rise in the future.

Q . How many volunteers support Hibiscus Coast Hospice?
More than 300 volunteers help us in our work in the community. Over 200 assist in the running of our four shoppes, 50 work with patients and their families and the rest assist with fundraising, administration, gardening, etc.

Q . Hospice must be a depressing place to work?

A . Absolutely not! We have a magnificent team of very positive, caring and sharing people - and we have a wonderful time together. Our nurses and homecare volunteers are there to assist our patients and enhance the quality of their remaining life. Their care embraces the physical, social, emotional and spiritual elements of well being of the patients and their carers and our caring and sharing can be wonderfully rewarding. Yes it does have its sad times and yes it can be very emotionally draining - we must take care and time-out to look after ourselves - but as with most giving, the returns and rewards far exceed the input.

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