Community support the key to keeping Hospice

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THEY ALSO SERVE: Hospice depends upon community support, not least that given by the likes of Margaret Burke (left) and Jenny Williams at the Take 2 Hospice shop in Kaitaia.
THEY ALSO SERVE: Hospice depends upon community support, not least that given by the likes of Margaret Burke (left) and Jenny Williams at the Take 2 Hospice shop in Kaitaia.

Services provided by Hospice are free to those who receive them, so sponsorship, fundraising and donations are key to their ability to serve.

The Northland DHB provides 60 per cent of the projected running costs for Kaitaia's Far North Community Hospice, 100 per cent of that being committed to essential services.

"We operate within the constraints of a budget, and each year the economic climate escalates, creating financial challenges, with bigger sponsors tightening their purse strings, so grants and support for fundraising are warmly welcomed," operations manager Davina Reed said.

Far North Community Hospice had been providing care in the Far North for 30 years. Established in 1986 as Far North Palliative and Cancer Care (FNPACC), it was based at Kaitaia Hospital's old nurses' home as a voluntary agency giving support and care to cancer patients and their families, and to assist with the care of the terminally ill.

FNPACC became a charitable trust in 1994, and in 2001 moved to 58A Matthews' Avenue, Ms Reid saying the service also continued to evolve as technology and best practice were challenged and improved.

The complexity of care provided had also broadened, to include palliative patients with chronic respiratory, cardiac and renal disease.

"Regardless of the disease process, each patient receives a total care package of holistic care and support from Hospice, health providers and practitioners that may involve a multi-disciplinary team approach," she added.

"A huge number of those use the service are cared for in their homes, often until the very end. The Shirley Crawford Haven, established at Kaitaia Hospital in 1989, is another option, used during an interim period or in the terminal phase. The Haven is a self-contained facility at the north end of General Ward, where 24-hour nursing care is provided by the ward nurses, with Hospice nurses visiting as required.

Hospice nursing is a speciality field, and it takes a special kind of person to choose this career pathway," she said.

"The four nurses on staff - Erin Walsh, Lorraine Parker, Kate Van Kan and Brylee Thompson - are a unique group of professionals who are dedicated to hospice nursing. They provide nursing care for the terminally ill in their own homes, keeping in close contact with the GP and liaising with palliative care specialist Warrick Jones, at North Haven Hospice (who also travels to Kaitaia monthly to visit patients in their homes).

"The nurses all work part-time but maintain a 24/7 on-call service between them, covering the geographical area from Cape Reinga to Taupo Bay in the east, the Hokianga Harbour in the west and Umawera to the south."

Far North Hospice relied heavily upon a veritable army of volunteers, 40 of them in all, who worked in the Take 2 Hospice Shop, supported the nurses, picked up and delivered loan equipment, gardened, hosted and supported fundraising events throughout the year.

"The volunteers are an integral part of the Hospice movement, and often front the organisation in the work they do," Ms Reed said.

"Far North Community Hospice is fortunate to have a dedicated group who are valued and very willing in giving their time back to the community."

The organisation is governed by seven trustees - Jan McLean, Eric Shackleton (chairman), Carlita Grond, Anne Walker, Colleen Olsen, Sue Matthews and Amanda Bell - who meet monthly to oversee the governance of the service to the community.

Ms Reed's job is to ensure the smooth running of the service, while Tracey Dyer is at reception.

Referrals to Hospice can be self-made by the patient or their family, or via a GP, oncology staff, hospital staff, consultants/specialists or other health professionals.

Contact can be made by phoning (09) 408-0092, faxing (09) 408-0342, calling at 58A Matthews' Avenue or emailing

"Far North Community Hospice touches the lives of hundreds of people each year, not only those who lose the battle against their illness but also those who love them and care for them in their last days," Ms Reed said.

"In the last year we received more than 90 referrals, all in need of care, support, education or pain and symptom management provided by the nursing team."

Far North Community Hospice was affiliated to Hospice NZ and adopted its philosophy, affirming life, recognising dying as a normal process that must be neither hastened nor postponed, working to help patients and families attain a degree of preparation for death that is satisfactory to them, recognising grief as normal response to loss, support for the family continuing into the bereavement period, and offering services in a culturally appropriate manner based on need, not the ability to pay.

Simply put, the mission is to provide quality support to patients and their families during their time of need.

- Northland Age

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