2008: Otago people support campaign to help hospice

December 23: Day respite care will return to the Otago Community Hospice next year after the Otago Daily Times' successful "Help the Hospice" campaign, which ended yesterday, having raised $304,000.

The organisation would head into 2009 secure in the knowledge services would not need to be reduced, chief executive Ginny Green said. The day hospice programme is set to reopen in the new year and plans have been outlined to launch an initiative called the Liverpool care of the dying pathway.

"We look forward to 2009 with a new sense of security, thanks to the marvellous people of Otago," Ms Green said.

In July, the hospice was facing a $300,000 deficit for the financial year and a $500,000 deficit the next year. In a bid to save costs, the organisation closed four of its 12 in-patient beds and day respite-care services. After contributions from charitable organisations and various fundraisers, $200,000 was raised, which allowed the beds to reopen. The hospice still faced a significant funding shortfall.

The Otago Daily Times "Help the Hospice" campaign started at the end of October to answer the call for funding help. After eight weeks, the hospice's $300,000 financial deficit had been wiped and all services were set to be reinstated. "The generosity this community has shown to its hospice has left us slightly shell-shocked," Ms Green said.

Traditionally, the day programme allowed patients to spend time in the hospice, giving their carers a break and also allowing hospice staff to reassess the patients' needs. However, this format was set to change to cater more for the individual needs of the patients as well as the carers. "It's really exciting because we are in a position to look at offering massage and music therapy," she said.

The care pathway, which was deferred earlier this year, was designed to support health-care providers in all settings to care for patients in the last 48 hours of life. It was a quality initiative which would ultimately improve care of the terminally ill wherever they might choose to be, Ms Green said.

"As the only community-based specialist palliative care provider in Otago, it is our responsibility to lead the way by implementing new initiatives to improve patient care and support the health professionals providing care."

However, the hospice still needed to raise more than $1.3 million a year for its $3 million operating costs, Ms Green said. "We will continue to rely on our community, and worry that the current economic climate will impact on our ability to raise our funding shortfall."

However, Health Minister Tony Ryall said he was committed to helping hospices struggling with funding. The Government at present paid about 56% of operating costs. "We promised to give hospices an extra $15 million funding and we will do that. Palliative and end-of-life care provides dignity to people and this extra money will bring hospices a greater certainty of funding," he said.

The extra $15 million would go to hospices next July, he said. This would bring hospice funding up to about 70% of their budgets, which meant an extra $500,000 for Otago's hospice.



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