31 August 2020

Clare Holland House turns the sod on $6 million expansion

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Georgina Byron and Senator Zed Seselja

Snow Foundation CEO Georgina Byron and Senator Zed Seselja turn the sod for the Clare Holland House expansion. Photo: Supplied.

Clare Holland House is one of Canberra’s true treasures: surrounded in spring by a blossoming garden and threaded through by passing walkers and cyclists along the lake shore, it’s a place of great peace for the last days of life.

It’s also one of the few growing palliative care facilities in Australia, turning the sod last week on a major $6 million expansion that will create eight new beds, enabling palliative care for an additional 250 patients each year including the 30 per cent of regional patients who access its services.

There will be added features for a more family-friendly environment, including a room fitted out especially for children and space for parents to stay with them. The expansion will also support the continued growth of outpatient and outreach palliative care.

Paul House

A smoking ceremony was carried out by traditional owner Paul House. Photo: Supplied.

Calvary Health Care and the Snow Foundation have launched the expansion project and together with Hands Across Canberra are inviting the Capital Region to contribute through a community fundraiser. An additional $4 million in collaborative support from the Federal Government has made the project possible.

“I think it’s true to say that there’s hardly anybody here today or in the Canberra community who doesn’t know someone – an individual or a family – whose lives have been touched by Clare Holland House and the amazing care they provide for people reaching the end of their lives,” ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said at the sod-turning ceremony on Friday (28 August).

She lauded the staff for their expertise in “assisting patients and families to achieve dignity and comfort and to enhance the quality of care for patients coming to the end of their lives”.

She further described the Snow Foundation as “an exemplar of philanthropic contribution in a way we rarely see in Australia”.

Senator Zed Seselja also honoured The Snow Foundation’s generosity to the Canberra community and the work done by Clare Holland House medical director Dr Suharsha Kanathigoda. He also noted the care offered by the Little Company of Mary and Calvary.

“They have provided that care and support out of a deep place of love,” he said. “People feel and see that in their care.”

Georgina Byron

Snow Foundation CEO Georgina Byron launches the community appeal. Photo: Supplied.

Snow Foundation CEO Georgina Byron described Clare Holland House as a world leader in palliative care, including the facility itself and its provision of outreach care that maximises time spent with family at home during the last days of life.

She said that in addition to the building funding provided by the Foundation and Federal Government, community support would assist with landscaping, constructing a playground and furnishing the expanded section.

Given the facility’s important role in the community, Clare Holland House also wants to build a collection of personal experiences and memories of love, care and kindness.

The first donations have already come through, including one from the Belconnen Ridge Early Childhood Centre.

“They held a pyjama day and raised $230,” Ms Byron noted. “The kids there said the contribution should go to oranges and strawberries for people in their last days of life.”

The expansion project is due to be completed in mid-2021.

The Clare Holland House Community Fundraising appeal will operate through Hands Across Canberra, the ACT’s community foundation. To find more information about the project and to donate, visit The Snow Foundation.

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