Officially open: Ballarat Hospice Care Chair, Geoff Russell and Member for Western Victoria, Jaala Pulford launched the palliative care hub. Photos: EDWINA WILLIAMS

Warm, welcoming, calming home for hospice

October 10, 2019 BY

WELL equipped to provide a better quality of life to those terminally ill, Ballarat Hospice Care has moved to a new home.

Now in a built-for-purpose palliative care hub on Sturt Street, Alfredton, the warm, welcoming facility was officially opened last week.

The large premises has private, comfortable consultation rooms specifically designed for difficult family discussions, a bereavement counselling service, a reflective garden with benches and a water feature, and appropriate storage space for plenty of palliative care equipment.

Designed by Morton Dunn Architects, the facility is calming and neutral in colour. It was partially funded by over $1.5 million of community donations, and a further $6.2 million was injected from the Regional Health Infrastructure fund.

With more people making the decision to die at home, Ballarat Hospice Care has grown 157 per cent since 2007 as an independent organisation. On average, they’re caring for 190 to 200 people at a time.

Ballarat Hospice Care’s new home on Sturt Street, Alfredton.

Chair, Geoff Russell said the move from Ballarat south has been a community driven project a decade in the making. The new building will accommodate the next 25 years of growth.

“Ten years ago, we realised we could no longer fit into Drummond Street. We’ve had to be patient, knock on doors… You name it, we’ve done it,” he said. “I can see 250 people being cared for at any one time in the not too distant future, perhaps onto 300.

“The word is out, if you’re faced with life threatening illness, Ballarat Hospice Care is the place for you. It’s owned by the community, for the community and it’s of the community.”

Member for Western Victoria, Jaala Pulford experienced the support of Ballarat Hospice Care a few years ago before her teenage daughter, Sinead, died of cancer.

She said the new site has been a long-term “labour of love,” with the organisation formerly at a “pretty ordinary” facility.

“This is an absolute treasure of a service. The staff and volunteers that provide care to people who are dying, and indeed care and support the carers of people in our community who are dying, whether they are older people or small children, is just extraordinary,” she said.

Palliative care was unfamiliar to Ms Pulford before her daughter’s illness, but her experience with Ballarat Hospice Care was the “complete opposite” of what she thought.

“From the very first nurse who knocked on the door and took control of a completely out of control situation, at least that’s how it felt as a mum, it was an enormous relief,” she said.

“Sinead was a forthright young woman and was adamant she’d have her care at home, in her room with her things, cat on the bed, and she was able to do that.”

By the time Sinead’s last days arrived, her family had become capable carers because of the quality resources and professionals locally accessible.

“Plainly, because the hospice staff had showed us what to do, told us what to do and prepared us,” Ms Pulford said. “It was a great comfort to her, it was a great comfort to me, to my husband and to our son.

“They are truly outstanding palliative care professionals and it’s really wonderful to see them in a facility that will enable them to provide the kind of care and support that my family had, to so many more families across this region.”