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Hospice Tairawhiti, formerly known as Gisborne Palliative Care Service has been providing community based hospice services in the Tairawhiti region since 1980. On average we care for approximately 160 new patients per year and to date have cared for over 3,000 patients and whanau.
For the past 25 years we have been operating out of a small building on the hospital grounds - a building that is no longer large enough to house our increasing staff numbers, does not have the space for patients and families to visit us, and more importantly, is restricting the potential to grow the services hospice could offer to the community. We know from Ministry of Health predictions that the number of people requiring hospice services will greatly increase in coming years. To cope with the increased demand we will need to make some changes to the way we currently work and continue to upskill the generalist healthcare workforce.
We believe the way forward is to build a community hospice large enough so that we can invite patients to come to us when they are well enough. We will be looking at a more social model, where first assessments, ongoing assessments, social work, and counselling will be done more often at the Hospice, rather than home for ambulant patients. Our doctors and nurses will continue to visit patients at home, but the less time they spend on the road, the more time they will have to help more families. A bonus is that patients will be able to meet and support each other, and we will be able to offer a greater range of therapies. Patients will be able to see a nurse or doctor in a clinic, take part in complementary therapy, join support groups, and actively participate in day programmes – most of which we have not been able to provide in our current building.
We do not plan to have an inpatient unit as we believe the majority of people want to be cared for in their own homes and that the population requiring palliative care in Tairawhiti isn’t yet big enough to require an inpatient unit. We feel it would be more beneficial to put our resources into supporting people to be cared for in the community, either at home or in Aged Residential Care. There may be a need for an inpatient unit in the future, and we would ensure there was room to extend our building should the need arise.
We want the hospice to be a building at the heart of our community, we want it to be visible and vibrant. Hospice is an organisation that celebrates life and we want our building to reflect that.
This project will help us take our palliative care services to a new level of excellence, but we hope it will also help us change people’s perceptions about death and dying. We don’t want dying to be a hushed subject, but rather something that is talked about, understood and regarded as a stage of life that is just as important as all the other stages