Waipuna Hospice sustained by community support

Photo: Erin Goodhue and her Dad Grahame Benvie, who is a Waipuna Hospice patient.

Waipuna Hospice is often misconceived as a place for your final days, where in reality it is there to support terminally ill individuals and their families, ensuring they get the care they need, when they need it. This vital service’s existence is only possible through the support of the wider community. Without the generous support from individuals, local businesses and funders, Waipuna Hospice would not be here today.

Each year, Waipuna Hospice cares for up to 1,000 patients and supports over 3,000 family members throughout what is usually a very difficult journey. Richard Thurlow, Waipuna Hospice's Chief Executive Officer, understands how important Waipuna Hospice’s care is to our community.

“When we meet patients and families, it is a time with a lot of emotions, fear, and uncertainty, and many feel overwhelmed as they don’t know where to turn to or what support they can get,” says Richard.

Richard explains that Waipuna Hospice relieves others' burdens and assists in making the final stages of life more bearable. Waipuna Hospice offers wrap-around care, looking at not just the physical illness, but considering someone’s social, spiritual and emotional needs too. Patients can be cared for onsite in their Inpatient Unit on Te Puna Station Road or at home, with Waipuna Hospice helping ensure they have everything they need to be comfortable and supported.

Today, most of Waipuna Hospice’s care occurs in patients' homes. Specialised equipment such as hospital beds, Lazyboy chairs, or shower seats can be provided and delivered to homes around Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty, giving patients as much independence as possible.

In 2022-2023 alone, Waipuna Hospice provided 6,557 nurse visits, 10,562 phone calls to patients, and 3,334 support calls and visits to family members. These 20,453 contacts with patients and their families show the true ripple effect of hospice care, and their work to ensure everyone is supported, from the patient to their immediate carers and the wider community.

Erin Goodhue, whose father has stage four cancer, had her perception of hospice changed rapidly once she realised they were a source of practical assistance, and that they genuinely cared about supporting her Dad and their family every step of the way.

“The first thing hospice did was come and visit us at home for an initial consultation to meet Dad, understand who he was, his illness and what he might need to be comfortable and see exactly where he needed support.”

Although Waipuna Hospice provides medical support and equipment delivery, they also provide emotional, social, and psychosocial care for patients and families. They have trained physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and massage therapists available to ensure the death process is less painful and less scary for everyone involved by meeting their individual needs. Nothing is one-size-fits-all.

By assisting patients and families through some of the big aspects of their journey, hospice allows them to focus on other things, like spending time with family, final wishes and planning for what’s next.

“What surprised me during that time was that hospice wasn’t just coming to care for Dad. They were coming to care for all of us,” says Erin. “They tailored their care to our needs – to the person, not the disease.”

Local funder TECT has regularly supported Waipuna Hospice and recently approved a multiyear grant of $495,000. This will provide $165,000 of yearly funding for Waipuna Hospice’s operating costs, supporting all facets of care for the next three years.

TECT strives for their funding efforts to empower the communities and organisations they support by working together to significantly impact the quality of life and wellbeing for all.

Mark Arundel, TECT Deputy Chair, says Waipuna Hospice exists because the community supports them, and without the community, this key service may not be there, in its current form, helping with ‘end of life’ care for individuals and support for their families.

“For TECT, providing funding allows us to do our part in supporting Waipuna  Hospice, by helping them with some of the operational cost burden, so they can continue to meet the needs of their patients and families, and help our community thrive.”

History of Waipuna Hospice

Waipuna Hospice is a legacy of Western Bay of Plenty couple Pat and Jack Jenkins, who left provisions in their Wills for a hospice service to be established for the community. Waipuna Hospice was officially opened on 30 June 1990 in a villa located on Cameron Road, owned by the Tauranga Hospital.

Initially, volunteers worked alongside cancer nurses to provide community care, and the villa was utilised as a drop-in centre before the need to expand their services became apparent. In 1995 a manager was appointed and in 1996 a professional palliative nursing service was established. Then in 1998, Waipuna Hospice moved to its current location on Te Puna Station Road thanks to the generosity of Veta May James.


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