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The mission of Anam Cara Geelong is to provide the local community with a residential respite facility, supporting people who care for a loved one with a life limiting illness at home.

Anam Cara Geelong offers 24-hour palliative care to people of all ages who have a chronic or terminal illness, provided by registered nurses, allied health professionals and trained volunteers.

The aim is to provide specialised care within a home-like environment, embracing respect and compassion for all.

Guest can attend a day hospice and short term overnght respite; giving carers a break and supporting their ability to continue to provide home care for their loved one.

Anam Cara also provides a choice of care in the last few days of life; if home care is no longer appropriate or possible and if acute hospital care is unwarranted.

Background and history

The project began in 2002 with the establishment of a working group to set up a community residential respite facility. In 2003 the group was incorporated as The Community Hospice Project Inc. with the vision to establish a unique community respite facility. The term ‘hospice’ means ‘a resting place’ and it was envisaged that this facility would provide quality residential respite care in a home-like environment. Anam Cara House is the name for the hospice – ‘anam cara’ is the Gaelic term for ‘soul friends’.

The project was a first for Geelong as the only specialised residential respite facility in the region to integrate residential respite in a home like environment, holistic care, information, education, volunteer support and complementary therapies; in line with the current Palliative Care Australia standards and recommendations. The focus was to offer choice – alongside admittance to hospital for respite or medical-based palliative care. The project responded to the growing service gap in residential respite care in Geelong – especially in the provision of short-term respite care.

Anam Cara Geelong therefore reflected the need within the wider Geelong community for appropriate respite accommodation, for people with a life-limiting illness, currently being cared for at home. The focus on ‘whole of community’ is also highlighted by the pioneering approach that Anam Cara House took in the area of providing support and care for guest, carer and family.

In-principle support was received from the major health providers in Geelong. St John of God Hospital committed to cover the cost of meals, which they still do today. A major capital fundraising appeal raised enough funds to get the project off the ground, and it has continued to operate almost exclusively on the generosity of the local community and philanthropic organisations.

In May 2016, "game changing" news was received by the House in the form of respective pledges of $5m by each of the Federal Coalition and Federal Labor Party to build a new Anam Cara House Geelong. Our organisation has recognised the critical function of our long term sustainability, and we have also received tremendous support recently from the State Government. The State Minister for Health; Honourable Jill Hennessy MP, and our local State Members. This support has come in the form of a state Government grant to enable the House to improve its operations, compliance, functions and to build a business case that supports regular funding opportunities.

Anam Cara Geelong will launch it's second Annual Giving Appeal in April this year.

Donations help ensure our essential hospice services are made available to many more people in need in our community.

Anam Cara House Geelong makes a huge positive difference to the lives of those with chronic or life-limiting illness, while also providing invaluable support to their carers and families.

Financial contributions mean our Day Hospice program, overnight respite and end-of-life care services can reach out even further to assist those in need.

In February 2006, St Mary’s Catholic Parish, situated in central Geelong offered the current Presbytery building as the location for Anam Cara Geelong. Surrounded by spacious gardens, and just two minutes walk from each of Geelong’s three hospitals, the building was ideal for the needs of the hospice, and was made available for a minimum of ten years at a ‘peppercorn’ lease. The Presbytery building accommodates up to six hospice residents on the ground floor, together with spacious dining/community room, kitchen, laundry, family unit and quiet areas. In addition, the upper storey has six rooms which are used for people who have need of low-cost accommodation so they can be close to patients in the hospitals, or who may be receiving treatment themselves but don't require overnight hospitalisation.

Anam Cara Geelong is community-based, and non-denominational. It is a classic example of community partnering; a project generated from within the community, reflecting the community priorities of the wider Geelong region and backed by an impressive list of core and supporting partners including business leaders, healthcare professionals and private organisations.