Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Anam Cara House Colac is a community owned hospice established to provide respite, palliative care and end of life care for the people of South West Victoria on Gulidjan Country. Carers, family and friends who support their chronically ill loved ones with at-home care commonly experience compassion fatigue when they are tasked with delivering the bulk of care requirements.

Supporting these carers, alongside improving the comfort of chronically ill community members, were the key drivers behind what Anam Cara House Colac aimed to achieve with their project. Community members who are either ill themselves or caring for others are often confused and/or unaware of available support services that could assist them to maintain their independence or live their lives more comfortably. For many, it is a time of vulnerability and fear, and having knowledge of, and access to, available services is critical.

Anam Cara House Colac received a $5,000 Gardiner Foundation Community Grant to run a series of three focused information sessions for community members living with, or caring for those affected by, life-limiting conditions.

Guest speakers from local health services, as well as a representative from My Aged Care, provided up-to-date and relevant information that is helpful and/or necessary to support someone with a chronic illness to live in a supported way that maximises independence. The choice of speakers was developed on the basis of anecdotal feedback from users of Anam Cara’s services.

Naomi Lettieri, Anam Cara’s Community Liaison Nurse, said that they experienced challenges with a slightly lower uptake than was expected, and they responded by involving the local radio station.

Anam Cara contacted Otway Community Radio (OCR), who agreed to record the second and third sessions. In doing so, they were able to reach more people, especially those who were unable to leave home due to their caring commitments. The sessions were aired both by OCR and shared on Anam Cara’s Facebook page as a podcast.

The grant covered the costs of advertising, catering, resources, and provision of respite to those who require it, with a portion directed to wages for planning and implementation of the events. It also included follow up for those in need, whether it be with advance care planning support or assistance in referral to other services.

Thanks to Anam Cara House Colac and the generosity of the Gardiner Dairy Foundation, this project allowed those in need to access information on caring for either themselves or those with chronic illness.