The official opening of the Nelson Tasman Hospice in Suffolk Road in Stoke this Thursday is a tremendous achievement for the region. We owe huge thanks to the thousands of volunteers, health professionals and supporters that have enabled us to complete this stunning new facility.
Nelson has been at the forefront of the New Zealand Hospice movement since it began. The philosophy is to focus on the quality of life for people in the last months, weeks or days of life. It is a better model of care than hospitals and invasive procedures. It provides people with special palliative and wrap around services to ensure the last stage of life is as comfortable and fulfilling as possible.
It has been an amazing journey working alongside Hospice over the last 30 years seeing these services grow. Sally McCormack House used to support 30 families a year but the numbers now top 400 per year. We achieved a major breakthrough in 1998 in getting Government through the District Health Board to contract Nelson Hospice for integrated home and in-patient services. This enabled the Manuka St Hospital shared facility with Hospice that opened in 1999. The growth in demand for surgery and for Hospice since has seen the site become increasingly pressured for space and the search for a dedicated Hospice site.
The Hospice this month has been seeking donations of tissues. I dropped some in and was offered a tour. A long serving volunteer said she needed the tissues for her tears of joy for the new building. It is easy to see why. The ten spacious inpatient rooms each have a deck and garden and a private bathroom with the latest technology to make people as comfortable as possible. Large parts of the building are to support the army of nurses and volunteers who support patients in their homes and to store and manage the modern equipment to make people as comfortable as possible. There are also extensive facilities to support families including accommodation for those from our rural hinterland, training facilities and consultation rooms to link patients with the full range of health professionals. We now have the best Hospice anywhere in New Zealand. Full points must also go to architect Andrew Irvine and builders Gibbons Construction.
The $11.5m fundraising campaign for our new hospice has involved thousands of generous contributions. I pay tribute to the recently passed Shirley Miles, who as the Pearly Queen, raised over $160,000, the dozens of volunteers who support the Hospice Op Shops and many dozens more of businesses that have supported the cause.
I also pay tribute to the Hospice Board so ably led by former Nelson Marlborough Health Board CEO John Peters and the Hospice staff led by Frances Dellebeke. It takes a special kind of person to work with the dying but Nelson has them in bulk.
It is said that a community should be judged not by how its most affluent live, but by how it cares for its most vulnerable. Our new Hospice reinforces just how caring a place Nelson is.