28 June 2021

An inside look at the new Clare Holland House expansion

| Dominic Giannini
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Bed in room at Clare Holland House

An additional eight beds have been added to Clare Holland House. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

The eight-bed extension of Clare Holland House – the only inpatient palliative care service for the Canberra region – has now opened.

On top of the extra eight beds, the $6 million expansion also provides more room for families in the form of a family lounge, private courtyards and overnight spaces, as well as new clinical spaces to help make people’s last days as comfortable and positive as possible.

ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said the expansion, which will allow an additional 250 people to pass through the facility each year, is a great achievement for a place that holds a special place in the hearts of Canberrans.

“Almost all of us would have had a family member or had a friend or known someone who experienced the professional end-of-life care, palliative support and loving care that is received here at Clare Holland House,” she said.

Bed in room at Clare Holland House

The additional rooms at Clare Holland House mean an extra 250 patients per year can come through the facility. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

“We know Clare Holland House is a place where memories are going to be reflected on as people reach the end of their life.

“This beautiful setting means there is an opportunity to create new, positive memories about the end of somebody’s life in a really supportive setting.”

Extra staff will be required to help with the extra inpatient demand at the facility and it will be in the hands of the ACT Government to fund it.

Medical director of palliative care for Calvary Hospital and Clare Holland House, Dr Suharsha Kanathigoda, said he expected funding to flow through in August or September 2021, which will be just after the ACT Budget is delivered.

Bathroom at Clare Holland House

The $6 million expansion of Clare Holland House includes bigger rooms so patients and their families can be more comfortable. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

He welcomed the expansion, which was a partnership between the Snow Foundation, the Federal Government and ACT Government, but said more funding is needed for Clare Holland House’s home-based palliative care service.

“People are living longer and want to stay at home as long as possible,” said Dr Kanathigoda.

“We have a team called the PEACE Team which goes and looks after people in all 28 nursing homes across the ACT.”

The Palliative Aged Care Specialist (PEACE) Team started in the ACT and is beginning to expand to other jurisdictions.

Dr Suharsha Kanathigoda

Dr Suharsha Kanathigoda wants more investment in at-home palliative care services. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Founder and chair of the Snow Foundation, Terry Snow, said he was encouraged to make a $2 million donation – one of the largest single donations in the foundation’s 30-year history – to Clare Holland House after some of his friends passed through the facility and were very happy with their experience.

“It is the second largest [facility of its kind] in Australia and probably the best, and that pleases me because Canberra people should be entitled to nothing less,” he said.

“When they came to us and said they needed a hand, we said yes.”

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