Clare Holland House

Clare Holland House (CHH) is situated in a beautiful position on the foreshores of Lake Burley Griffin. Each patient room has a view of the lake or the river. Over the last two years, the ‘Foreshore Gardens’ around Clare Holland House have undergone a facelift and, although the garden is in its infancy, another decade will see growth that will enhance the facility by providing shade, beauty and grace; it will also attract a wider variety of birdlife than we enjoy at present.

Another initiative at CHH in recent years has been the development of a ‘room sized’ gazebo made from Jarrah. This development attempts to meet the needs of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples within our community; providing an open air space into which a hospital bed can be wheeled. The gazebo has electricity to provide light and allow equipment to be used. It also provides shelter in which patients and families can gather together. There is Indigenous art work on a nearby wall of the facility. The gazebo sits within the foreshore garden and has views up the river (shown above) and across the lake. It was inspired after a well-loved indigenous patient died at CHH; his greatest wish was to be outside.

The ACT palliative care service incorporates a 19 bed In-Patient Unit, the Home Based Palliative Care service and a Medical Consultative service that sees patients in their home, in the local ACT hospitals, in aged care settings and on site in the specialist clinic. The service is managed by Calvary Health Care ACT and CHH is the stand alone building that houses these services.

Clare Holland House is named after the first Clinical Nurse Consultant of the original ACT Palliative Care Service. In Clare Holland’s day the service was community based and was managed by ACT Health. Clare Holland died from metastatic breast cancer over 10 years ago, but she is revered for the tireless effort that she gave, with others, to the establishment of palliative care services within the ACT in its formative years.

ACT PEPA commenced in 2003. Initially the aged care sector picked up and ran with the PEPA program in this jurisdiction. Today PEPA is reasonably well known within the ACT – especially in the aged care sector, however increasingly so in the acute sector.

With only one host site in the ACT there are obvious positives and challenges. The positives include the ease of access, promotion and communication. Working with one team allows tighter allegiance, understanding and team work. The ACT PEPA Manager is also able to personally meet with and participate in the mentoring process of the placements.

The challenge, however, is that the host-site in the ACT has no other specialist palliative care services in which to share the responsibility of education and student mentoring. Managing the workload and minimizing the burden on the host-site staff is a constant challenge. Despite this the staff at CHH are welcoming, generous and gracious to PEPA placements. They willingly contribute to workshop sessions; providing education, and sharing their knowledge and expertise with the wider health care community. Annette, the PEPA manager in the ACT, and the National team are truly thankful for their on-going support and enthusiasm in providing this service to the local health sector community.

Placements coming to CHH have a time-table of experience developed to meet their learning goals and their workplace roles. Generally, they have exposure to the In-Patient Unit, Home Base Palliative Care and The Canberra Hospital (TCH) Palliative Care Liaison Team. For those that would benefit, a tour of the radiation oncology unit at TCH is also organised. Placements usually attend a Palliative Approach workshop during their placement week and have access to the library at CHH. Experiential learning, educational workshop, researching, resource gathering and networking all contribute to an opportunity to self-direct the learning experience to meet individual needs while at CHH. The post-placement phase has the opportunity for personalized follow-up and in-service education sessions for organisations should they request it.

Clare Holland House is a unique facility, beautifully situated, and exemplary in their care of palliative patients, their families, and education to primary health care providers.

Thank you Clare Holland House!

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