Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Keeping adolescents out of aged care: First Australian hospice for young adults

Young adults living with incurable illnesses will have access to waterfront respite care when Australia’s first hospice for young people opens on Sydney’s northern beaches next year.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday turned the first sod at the site of the adolescent and young adult hospice, which will provide palliative care for 15 to 24-year-olds and their families when construction completes late 2022.

The facility is the first of its kind and is being pitched as a test case for similar facilities across the country for young people who have to seek respite care in aged care facilities if required.

“What families have told us is that once children achieved teenage years there was really nowhere for them to go if they’re suffering from chronic, life-debilitating or life-limiting disease,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Hopefully this will be the first of many such places around the state and around the nation that can support young people and their families.”

The waterfront development, on the site of the decommissioned Manly Hospital, will be made up of eight bedrooms for patients, a media and games room and two accommodation units for families.

For Scott Green, who has muscular dystrophy, the facility cannot come soon enough. Like many of his peers, the 21-year-old was no longer able to use the nearby Bear Cottage respite facility once he became an adult. Children who visit Bear Cottage range from newborns to 18 years of age.

Debbie Van Hoek said the hospice would fill a void for her son Matthew, 22, who has cerebellar atrophy and cerebral palsy, and has also missed the support available at Bear Cottage, particularly after hospital visits.

“There’s no transition, we’ve got to go straight home and deal with everything. We’ve been suggested that we go to an old people’s home. That’s not appropriate for young gentlemen,” she said.

“Here, we’ll be able to sort of have that transition. There will be the respite for Matthew and he will be able to go and see his friends. It’s just going to make a world of difference to us.”

The $19.5 million development is the result of combined state and federal government funding, community fundraising and philanthropy, namely $5 million from Manly couple Kay Van Norton Poche and her husband Greg Poche.

Ms Berejiklian said young people like Mr Green and Mr Hoek were the inspiration for the project and their voices had been heard.“You and your families are the inspiration for this and the inspiration for what successive generations will enjoy,” she said.

Ms Van Norton Poche, who has supported Bear Cottage for many years, decided to back the project after learning young people were often seeking respite in nursing homes and rehabilitation centres.

“I just thought, we’re better than that. Dignity begins with life, and each life has it. So let’s give it to people that we can, when we can,” she said.

Member for Manly James Griffin said the facility would provide care for young people across NSW, including from rural and regional areas.

“This is a wonderful example of what happens when government, community and philanthropy come together to unite behind a single cause,” he said.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald