My job’s not yet finished
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.