My job’s not yet fin­ished

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - JEMMA RYAN

ANAM Cara House founder Di­ane Wright has been awarded a life mem­ber­ship by Pal­lia­tive Care Vic­to­ria in recog­ni­tion of her ser­vice and achieve­ments in the in­dus­try.

The 65-year-old founded res­i­den­tial care fa­cil­i­ties in Gee­long and Co­lac in 2007 and 2011 re­spec­tively.

The Co­lac res­i­dent said it was her par­ents — key mem­bers in es­tab­lish­ing Royal Guide Dogs for Vic­to­ria — who in­flu­enced her com­mit­ment to com­mu­nity.

“(Every morn­ing) my fa­ther would look me in the eyes in an in­quis­i­tive fash­ion, and in a play­ful but cu­ri­ous tone he would ask: ‘What dif­fer­ence are you go­ing to make in the world to­day, Di­ane?’ It in­spired, en­cour­aged and spurred me on to make an im­pact and to drive mean­ing­ful change,” she said.

While work­ing as a fam­ily ther­a­pist and be­reave­ment coun­sel­lor in Gee­long, Ms Wright had the idea to cre­ate a respite and pal­lia­tive care fa­cil­ity that would pro­vide a high stan­dard of care within a “home­like” en­vi­ron­ment.

“Peo­ple with a ter­mi­nal ill­ness wanted to re­main at home and their fam­i­lies wanted the same thing. How­ever, they (fam­i­lies) be­came burnt out and to­wards the end of a loved one’s life it be­came ever more chal­leng­ing,” she said.

The es­tab­lish­ment of Anam Cara House Gee­long was the re­al­i­sa­tion of a vi­sion 12 years in the mak­ing, with Ms Wright even­tu­ally ap­proach­ing St Mary’s Church for the use of its pres­bytery and fundrais­ing to con­vert the for­mer priests’ liv­ing quar­ters into hos­pice rooms down­stairs and ac­com­mo­da­tion for rel­a­tives and car­ers up­stairs.

“I re­searched deeply and trav­elled widely, taking in­spi­ra­tion in pal­lia­tive care trends from across the world in de­vel­op­ing Anam Cara. Anam Cara is the Gaelic phrase for ‘soul friend’ and thus res­onates with the holis­tic care, in­clud­ing spir­i­tual care, of­fered,” Ms Wright said.

Since their es­tab­lish­ment, the two hos­pices have ex­panded an­nu­ally, with Anam Cara Co­lac sup­port­ing 61 guests and their fam­i­lies for 260 nights in the past fi­nan­cial year.

Ms Wright’s ser­vices to the com­mu­nity were pre­vi­ously ac­knowl­edged in 2013, when she was in­ducted onto the Vic­to­rian Hon­our Roll of Women.

Pala­tive Care Vic­to­ria recog­nised Ms Wright’s sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion at its an­nual gen­eral meet­ing yes­ter­day.

“It’s a great hon­our and it also means that the work done in our re­gion is be­ing recog­nised and high­lighted and that makes me feel very pleased. It’s a team ef­fort,” Ms Wright said.

Her trail­blaz­ing work, which has im­proved the quality of life of hun­dreds of peo­ple, shows no signs of abat­ing.

“I think it’s go­ing to be with me all my life. When you're a founder you don’t step away from it. I have a heart for hos­pice and I want to be part of pro­vid­ing that care,” Ms Wright said.

AMAZ­ING CON­TRI­BU­TION: Di­ane Wright has been awarded a life mem­ber­ship by Pal­lia­tive Care Vic­to­ria.

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