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Looking forward to the future
People often ask me why I came back to work at Hibiscus Hospice when I returned to New Zealand earlier this year. My answer is simple - this community. This incredible community who created our Hospice and continue to support it through the years. I was fortunate enough to work here back in 2006 when we were just a tiny facility, and the growth since then has been extraordinary. Every step along the way we have had the community backing us to ensure that hospice services remain free for those who need us. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support.
This year the modern Hospice movement turns fifty - the development of this special aspect of health care has only been available in recent years. The founder of this movement, Dame Cicely Saunders told us “you matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die".
It is commonly thought that hospices are only here to support people dying with cancer but this has never really been the case for Hibiscus Hospice. Last year, of the 280 people we cared for, less than 60% had cancer. If we look at England and Wales, since 2001 death rates from heart disease and stroke have halved for both males and females, and deaths from all sorts of dementia and particularly Alzheimer’s disease have increased by 60% in males and have doubled in females*, in 2015 heart disease is the most common cause of death among men, but Alzheimer’s and dementia are now the most likely cause among women. Now these may seem just interesting facts but in our planning, we need to consider the way that people in our area are approaching the end of their lives.
Our service must adapt to this change in cause of death. New Zealand has always been similar to the UK in disease patterns so we expect to see a change here too. We need to ensure we are ready to meet any new challenges that come our way.
And that’s why I am writing to ask for your support today – so we can continue to provide a range of services for the changing needs of our community.
Most hospice programmes are supported by their local communities and of course their governments. Here at Hibiscus Hospice we are hugely fortunate to have the wonderful support of our community to ensure that hospice services remain free to those who need them.
With your help, we will continue to provide the best care that we can in order that people can live as well as they can right up until the time of their death. We will continue to review our services and where possible we will undertake research into best practice and learn from our colleagues both here and overseas. Working with our community is of utmost importance to us. In many ways we see ourselves as acting as a bridge at one of the most challenging times of life. This is beautifully illustrated in a poem by one of my favourite New Zealand poets Joy Cowley:
By Joe Cowley. An excerpt, reprinted with permission.
“There are times in life
Please help us to provide that bridge and we will continue to do our very best to provide the care that our community wants and needs.
With best wishes
Professor Rod MacLeod
*[Public Health England report]
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