Demand for hospice speeds up redevelopment plans
Increased demand for care among patients with life-threatening conditions has prompted Hospice Waikato to push forward a redevelopment worth nearly $3 million.
The Gallagher Family Hospice has seen patient numbers balloon over the past two years and staff numbers have also lifted.
Parking at the Cobham Dr site is now unable to cope.
Hospice chief executive Craig Tamblyn said when the facility was built, a "phase two" of construction was envisaged, but it had been brought forward.
"The demand on services has gone up.
"Last year we had a 28 per cent increase in use of services and we've had a 33 per cent increase this year."
As a result, the hospice will see a $2.8 million redevelopment kick off in April.
The Wellness Centre - which currently houses outpatient services, counselling and massage therapy - will become a "one stop shop", Tamblyn said.
The building would be expanded and join with children's facility, Rainbow Place, and include new counselling rooms for group therapy, as well as more offices for doctors and rooms for art therapy.
The old motel units, which contained Tamblyn's office, HR, marketing and fundraising, among other departments, would be demolished.
Tamblyn said the development would make the site easier to navigate for visitors.
"Basically what has happened is as we've got busier, one of the things we have found that when you come onto the site, it's not as intuitive as it could be."
Demand for the hospice's free services, which were available to people suffering life-limiting illness, was being driven by a number of factors.
Tamblyn said more people were coming to hospice for outpatient services and there was an increase in referrals from GPs.
There had also been a lift in the number of children requiring counselling for sudden deaths in their families.
But he said there was more awareness of hospice services, too.
"It's a success story in the fact that people now know that when they are in the palliative care phase, they can use services.
"We are providing services that people want to use."
Unlike the first phase of construction, which raised money through community fundraising, the expansion was being paid for by money set aside by hospice, partnerships with businesses and grants from trusts.
Preliminary work on construction was already underway, Tamblyn said, but the first of the diggers were not scheduled to start work until the start of April.
Tamblyn said he hoped to have the project finished by March 2015, but it was likely to be finished around July.