Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy has granted millions to expand and improve palliative care in Ballarat.
A $6.2 million windfall will boost an ambitious push to develop a purpose-built facility for Ballarat Hospice Care in Lucas to better meet rapidly rising community demand.
Ms Hennessy arrived in Ballarat to make the pledge on a very personal note with friend and colleague, Victorian Agricultural and Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford welcoming the funding for a service that had allowed her 13-year-old daughter to die at home surrounded by all she loved.
“Tough, feisty little unit” Sinead Pulford had been adamant she would be treated at her Ballarat home after cancer diagnosis three years ago.
An emotional Ms Pulford said Hospice was only something she had been peripherally aware of until a carer turned up at their home.
“(Ballarat Hospice) taught us how to do things that meant she could stay out of hospital,” Ms Pulford said. “…She was able to die at home, in her bedroom, surrounded by all her favourite things, favourite people, familiar sounds and smells. It’s so important to make people feel comfortable.”
Ms Pulford said the 24-hour support, the familiar voice meant they did not have to constantly bundle a very sick child into a car and travel to the hospital emergency department.
As a politician, Ms Pulford was proud the government could make a difference for more people.
The boost comes under the state government’s Regional Health Infrastructure Fund and will allow Hospice to build a purpose-made, contemporary hub in Lucas to meet growing community demand. Service demand in Ballarat has increased 18 per cent in the past year.
Ms Hennessy was moved to help Hospice find a way to give more people end-of-life care that better met their needs.
“This is obviously been a really emotional day for all of us,” Ms Hennessy said. “Here at Ballarat Hospice we have a field of angels with people at their most vulnerable, helping families at their most emotional.”
A room full of Hospice workers welcomed the funding, which adds to $1.5 million already generated in a community appeal.
Hospice executive officer Carita Clancy said the new building would increasy diversity in approach to care, while also offering more appropriate, positive space for staff and volunteers.
“Our new home will be inviting and have a positive impact on the quality of services for all,” Ms Clancy said. “It will allow us to show how palliative care can really improve the quality of bothe living and dying.”
Wendouree MP Sharon Knight and former Victorian Health Minister Rob Knowles, Ballarat Hospice Care’s patron, were also present for the announcement.
The project is expected to be completed by late 2019.
This year, the state government also announced a $5 million boost for palliative care with a focus on at home care. Ballarat Hospice received $182,675 to buy vehicles, clinical equipment and communication, and security equipment.