Construction of the youth hospice at the old Manly Hospital site began today (Monday, 10 May).

In a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the new Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was joined by philanthropist Mrs Kay van Norton Poche, Senator Andrew Bragg and Member for Manly James Griffin.

Deb Willcox

Deb Willcox

The turning of the first sod marks the commencement of construction which is expected to be completed in around a year. Chief Executive of the Northern Sydney Local Health District Deb Willcox said when complete, the youth hospice would become part of the local health district.

“We are working through the governance model, it will work together with the new Palliative Care Unit that has been opened at Mona Vale. We have been working with our palliative care clinicians, and the team at Bear Cottage and the families there. That helps us design the model of care.

“Bear Cottage is part of the Sydney Children’s Health Network but it would be absurd for us not to link the two because some of those kids are going to transition. We need to understand what they have experienced so we can make sure that pathway into the hospice, should they need it, is not clunky or uncomfortable for them or their families,” said Ms Willcox.

Jennifer McConnell

Jennifer McConnell

General Manager of Mona Vale Hospital Jennifer McConnell said the new youth hospice filled a missing link in palliative care.

“Bear Cottage is up to 18, we’ve got the adult unit at Mona Vale and this will be 15-24, so we’ll cover the full spectrum in the area. We’re doing the staffing profile now to determine how we run it but it will be very similar to Bear Cottage in terms of the medical model.

“The operations will come from Mona Vale but we’ll ensure the full suite of services are available across all three sites, including Bear Cottage. For example, speech pathology is something you won’t need everyday here, but when you need it, you need it right now. We’ll keep that at Mona Vale but enhance it, and when Bear Cottage make a referral, we’ll have that available.

“Many of the services will be available on site here such as medical, nursing and physiotherapy. We are also hoping to also have some of the nice-to-have’s, such as music therapy, art therapy and massage therapy which are great reasons for people to keep donating to support additional services.

“The full-time medical staff will be full-time employees of NSW Health but the operating model will be 50 percent government funded and 50 percent charitable donations whereas Bear Cottage is 100 percent charitable. We will have in-depth consultations with families over the next nine months about things like meals and admissions, how they would like it to work,” said Ms McConnell.

James Griffin

James Griffin

Member for Manly James Griffin welcomed the commencement of construction and said Manly was the perfect place for the youth hospice.

“It will be a shining beacon of hope for the people across NSW who are going through the darkest of times. It reflects a theme that’s happening in Manly and the Northern Beaches, where our beautiful setting is available for people to come and recuperate, from Royal Far West and Bear Cottage at Manly to palliative care at Mona Vale Hospital.

“This is the perfect use of the space at this location. I was not going to rest until I got this started but it could not have happened without the direct support of the community from small thousand dollar amounts to the massive donation from Kay van Norton Poche.

“Now that it is funded and being built, people can start fundraising for art therapists, massage therapists and music therapists to come and inject some joy and happiness. We’ll have a website up soon for people to get involved and support it,” said Mr Griffin.

The full press conference can be viewed below.

Images and video: Northern Beaches Advocate