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Wedgetail Retreat launches to offer hospice care and support

Wedgetail Retreat will start to take in hospice residents from February 21.
Wedgetail Retreat will start to take in hospice residents from February 21.

WEDGETAIL Retreat has been officially opened and from February 21 will offer hospice services for those in the last stages of their lives.

The purpose-built education, respite and live-in hospice in Dulguigan was made possible by community support, Tweed Palliative Support president Meredith Dennis said.

"Our op shops in Murwillumbah and local craft and cancer support groups have been amazing," Ms Dennis said.

The retreat, the first of its kind on the Tweed, will be run by trained nurses and supported by TPS volunteers.

The facility had been sitting mostly vacant since 2009, due to the lack of funding for staff.

During that time it had been turning away an average of four patients a week, Ms Dennis said.

Guest speaker yesterday was palliative care guru Ian Maddocks, who spoke on the theme of "a good death".

Before the ceremony Professor Maddocks said dying well meant being as free as possible from physical discomfort and fear.

A sense of control over what lay ahead and how the dying person would meet it were also important.

"Sophisticated medical care is not always enough," Prof Maddocks said.

"The best place is usually at home, where there is freedom from the fear and isolation that you get in a public hospital.

"It's lovely to be able to die in the bosom of the family", which can provide families with "some of the most beautiful times that they had had, bringing a sense of completion, relief, release".

However, that was not always possible, and Wedgetail Retreat was "a brave attempt to do very good work on a largely charitable basis", he said.

The patient-centred approach at Wedgetail would allow a dying person to "feel like themselves".

Good palliative care depended on the right attitude of the caregiver, Prof Maddocks said.

"That means listening to the persons's real needs and feelings, which could include anger at what's happening," he said.

"And to bring them a sense of understanding and comfort, which is something you won't get in a busy public hospital.

"This applies to the family as well, to help them find ways to face it."

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