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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 4 August 2021) . . Page.. 2332 ..

Palliative Care ACT—Leo’s Place

MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (4.37): On Thursday, 29 July, I visited a special place in the middle of our city called Leo’s Place. A few years ago Palliative Care ACT began to question what more it could do to help people with a life-limiting illness. Research revealed that, despite 80 per cent of people preferring to die at home in Australia, the number of those who do is below 12 per cent. Dying in Australia is more institutionalised than in most countries, with Australians dying at home at half the rate that people do in New Zealand, the United States, Ireland and France. Carer fatigue and the lack of community support, such as respite, is a key reason for this outcome.

After investing in a scoping study and developing a model of care, Palliative Care ACT began fundraising to establish a respite option it could not find anywhere else in the world. Leo’s Place is a non-clinical home away from home where people with a life-limiting illness can come for a few hours or a few days, up to a week, to give their carers some time to recoup.

The original goal was to build purpose-built accommodation to ensure the building met a wide range of needs and provided people with their own space, while offering spaces for people to come together. Of course, a new build would take significant investment, and the model was unproven, but Palliative Care ACT were regularly meeting people who needed this type of support. So, rather than wait to build the perfect place, it was decided to test the model on a rental property.

Late last year, after searching for the right place, a lease was signed on the home they have just set up, and it is lovely. It feels like a home. The first client arrived in late January and you can see the effort that has been put into making the place feel welcoming. Support workers are there to assist when needed and those staying overnight have their own room. There are multiple living spaces for people to relax in while doing a puzzle, reading a book or watching TV.

This sort of innovative care is a wonderful opportunity for our city to show how compassionate a community we can be. Palliative Care ACT has received operational funding from the ACT government for the proof of concept and has teamed up with the University of New South Wales to assess the benefits. It would be good to do more to help this project succeed as well.

We all need to share the story of this project and help get the news about it around to the people who could benefit. Then, at the end of the current funding, we need to continue to support it. Eighteen months for such a new and valuable initiative may not give it the time to reach its full potential. This is something our entire community should get behind—business, government and individuals. We might need this high quality support ourselves someday.

I thank the staff at Leo’s Place for showing me around and the lady who was staying there who explained to me what a benefit the place is to her. I very much thank the kind and generous donors who have assisted to get the place going. I look forward to

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