Hospice need highlighted

Dr John Morris AO MBE, a supporter and member of Friends of Northern Hospice.

Dr John Morris AO MBE, a supporter and member of Friends of Northern Hospice.

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Launceston families who have cared for love ones will know the demands end of life care brings. No matter how much you are coping nothing prepares you for those last few weeks and days. Watching your loved ones slip away can feel isolating. 

Friends of Northern Hospice, have been campaigning on behalf of Northern Tasmanian community for a local, home-like hospice in which people can spend their last days in a dignified and non-clinical environment if they are unable to remain at home. 

This year World Hospice Day will be celebrated on October 8 and yet Northern Tasmanians are not able to access a dedicated ground floor end-of-life facility,  open to both young and old with individualised care. 

Hospices offer many things, from end-of-life care to palliative care and even respite can be provided to relieve relatives from home caring. 

In what can be a fragmented healthcare system hospices can provide comfort, support, medical assistance and can also work with families through the grieving process – making them invaluable resources in the local community. 

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The government feasibility study released earlier this year found there was no need for such a facility in the North, however Dr John Morris believes the report is lacking and cannot be used as a future tool for planning as no hospices were visited during the study. 

“The authors of the report appear not to have understood what a hospice provides – serenity, no unnecessary medical intervention, care for the welfare and feelings of the families, in a way hospitals are not geared to deal with,” he said. 

“In Launceston, many people who experienced the care provided in Philip Oakden House agree there is a need.  

“Why is it that in most population centres in Australia, including Hobart, there appears to be a Hospice meeting a need, whereas the report claims such a need is absent in Launceston?”

While having resounding support for the palliative care facilities in place within Launceston, Friends of Northern Hospice believe there is very much a need within the community that provides hospice care in a dedicated facility, where home comforts are first and foremost. 

“A Hospice, as proposed by the Friends of Northern Hospice would offer end-of-life care, carer respite and plans to bring all things Palliative under one roof .

“This would provide an opportunity for information sharing, avoiding patients and their families from having to tell 'their story' to several different organisations.

“It would also provide one phone number to call 24/7.

“Frequently we are hearing from patients and families that they are confused about who to call if they need assistance outside of business hours,” said Barb Baker, Friends of Northern Hospice. 

Previous experiences at Philip Oakden House saw patients taken out in their beds if they wished to easily accessible gardens, family pets were welcome to visit also, none of which can be achieved in a hospital environment. 

For more information on Friends of The Northern Hospice see: www.northernhospice.org.au/friends  or write to PO Box 233 Launceston

The authors of the report appear not to have understood what a hospice provides – serenity, no unnecessary medical intervention, care for the welfare and feelings of the families - Dr John Morris AO MBE

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