A $10,000 donation from in-home care provider Home Instead will help to create a sanctuary of serenity for terminally ill patients at Wyong Hospital.
This July, work is scheduled to begin on a new 12-bed palliative care unit, which will be called Elsie’s Project and be modelled on a similar facility that opened at Gosford Hospital in 2020.
Catering for ages 18-plus, and incorporating family accommodation, it will increase the number of palliative care beds on the Central Coast to 24.
Its features will include a beautiful courtyard garden, complete with a water feature that will be funded by the donation. This will feature a brass plaque dedicated to Home Instead’s clients.
To mark the start of Palliative Care Week, Home Instead Central Coast & Newcastle representatives handed over the $10,000 yesterday (Monday, May 22) to the Elsie’s Project organising committee.
The moment was imbued with personal meaning for special guest Mary Ann Vale, whose father Peter – a long-time Home Instead client alongside wife Judith – directly sparked the generous donation.
“My father battled cancer for about 10 years, and towards the end, he was in Gosford Hospital,” Mary Ann explained.
“He was then transferred to Elsie’s Project for the last few days of his life.
“When we had his funeral service, we asked those who attended to make a donation to Elsie’s Project, rather than giving flowers.
“A little while later I then received a phone call from our Home Instead Client Care Manager – who had attended the funeral with some of Dad’s carers – letting us know they wanted to make the $10,000 donation in his memory, which I thought was really lovely.
“It is very, very generous of them, and very kind.”
Home Instead Central Coast & Newcastle business operations manager Amee Dawson highlighted the importance of the Wyong Elsie’s Project as the missing piece of the puzzle for local palliative care.
“At Home Instead, we offer palliative care services in-home, with a focus on maintaining dignity and quality of life for people in their final days, whether it’s helping an older gentleman with a daily shave or taking someone outside to enjoy a little sunshine,” she said.
“However, it’s not always possible for people to stay in their home, which is why it’s so important for them to have somewhere like Elsie’s Project – somewhere that echoes our focus on personalised care to give people dignity and quality of life as their time draws to a close.”
That commitment to people and personality is something Mary Ann has firsthand experience of.
“When my dad was moved from the actual hospital into palliative care, it was Melbourne Cup day,” she said.
“And he enjoyed his red wine and he always enjoyed the action of the race day.
“He even won the little sweep we had between us, so he was very happy about that.”
Margaret Pearce, chair of the Elsie’s Project organising committing, welcomed the Home Instead Central Coast & Newcastle donation.
She noted the project had only been able to get off the ground with the integral support of backers like Member for Terrigal Adam Crouch.
The idea for how to best use the $10,000 donation sprang from her vision of an accessible courtyard retreat steeped in beauty, peace and serenity.
“I asked Home Instead if they wanted to cover the water feature for the garden and was delighted when they said yes,” Margaret said.
“It will be a beautiful feature and will be something everyone will be able to see and enjoy.”
It’s something of which Mary Ann thinks her dad would have approved.
“He was very much a thinking sort of person. And I know he would have really enjoyed the idea of contemplation and the peacefulness of that environment,” she said.
For more information on planning for end-of-life care at home, visit Home Instead’s information portal at homeinstead.com.au/resources/dying-at-home/
- Elsie’s Project is a major project of the Lions Club of Wyoming East Gosford Centennial Inc.
- Since it opened in 2020, more than 1000 patients have used Elsie’s Project at Gosford.
- It runs at 100% capacity for its 12 palliative care beds and there is a permanent waiting list.
- To date, more than 40% of its clients have been from the Northern end of the Coast. It’s envisaged the addition of the facility at Wyong will free up beds at Gosford to accept more patients from the southern end of the Coast.
The project committee is also working to identify and fund 20 RNs who can undergo training – at a cost of $5000 a person – to be ready to work at the Wyong facility when it opens.