Warrnambool and District Community Hospice Model spreads wings

The success of Warrnambool’s community hospice model is encouraging another region to investigate launching its own version.

Warrnambool and District Community Hospice members met with a group from the Bellarine Peninsula this week to pass on knowledge about its volunteer-driven organisation.

Warrnambool and District Community Hospice president Eric Fairbank.

Warrnambool and District Community Hospice president Eric Fairbank.

The Warrnambool group’s hospice in the home program launched in 2015. It provides trained volunteers to fill the gaps in existing palliative care services, providing extended daytime, weekend, and overnight care to support the terminally ill and their families and carers.

It now has more than 50 volunteers on its books and a fifth group of volunteers will begin training soon.

David Brumley, a palliative care expert who is among the group pushing for an in-home hospice model on the Bellarine, said he was impressed with what he had learnt about the Warrnambool model. 

“There’s a really urgent need at community level for this kind of thing,” he said.

“Because I’m doing home care on the Bellarine Peninsula I see constantly that we need more and more people to support people at home. Not everyone wants to die at home, it’s a mistake to think that, but a very large percentage of people do. What research has been done suggests about 60-odd per cent… want to do that, and few succeed.”

Fellow group member Jill Fletcher said without proper planning and support systems, people’s last wishes could not always be granted.

“Often for people who want to be at home, things get out of hand at home and nobody’s managing very well so they’re admitted to the hospital,” she said.

“That’s where a volunteer service like this can really make a difference,” Dr Brumley said.

The Bellarine group said the meeting also showed the importance of establishing links with health providers and other community groups.

Warrnambool and District Community Hospice president Eric Fairbank said the hospice in the home model was being recognised across Victoria and further afield.

It has also been backed up by the state government’s end of life framework that puts emphasis on preparing for the end of life and improved community services to help people die at home.