Clare Holland House will get up to 12 extra beds in a $6 million expansion that could allow the hospice to care for patients longer.
The hospice will receive a $4 million injection from the federal government and a $2 million donation from the Snow Foundation, ACT senator Zed Seselja and ACT Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris announced on Tuesday.
It's the first expansion of the hospice since it opened in 1995, and construction is expected to begin next year.
Ms Fitzharris said the territory government would fund extra staff for the expanded facility, but was waiting on the recommendations from the end-of-life choices inquiry and the finalisation of the territory-wide health framework to determine exact numbers.
“We’re looking at the moment at around eight to 12 extra inpatient beds," Ms Fitzharris said.
Ms Fitzharris said the demand for palliative care at home was also growing, which the government would try to address.
"More people actually tell us they want to be able to spend their last days at home as close to family and friends as they can if they can with the support of community based palliative care teams," she said.
“What we’ll be able to do is provide extra funding for community based care, care in residential aged care facilities as well as in-patient care."
Clare Holland House has 19 in-patient beds but is caring for about 300 people in the community or in nursing homes.
The average in-patient stay right now is between 11 and 14 days, and more beds could mean more capacity to care for people in the medium term.
Senator Seselja said the expansion would include more "family friendly features" to allow loved ones to stay with patients on-site.
"This is about building on what's an extraordinary facility. This has served the community for many, many years and most Canberrans have a story related to Clare Holland House.," he said
"It has an extraordinary reputation, the only challenge is the capacity so what we're announcing today is the start of an expansion of that capacity ... to deliver more palliative care in the territory to deliver better end of life care for more Canberrans."
The expansion will also allow more room for education and research, which Snow Foundation chief executive Georgina Byron said would make Clare Holland a “world leader in palliative care”.
Clare Holland House staff, Senator Seselja and Ms Fitzharris indicated talks about the expansion began before overcrowding at the hospice became a focus of the inquiry.
Palliative care medical director Dr Suharsha Kanathigoda said discussions began with the Snow Foundation about its donation 10 months ago, after the Snow family's close friend Richard White received care in the hospice.
"It’s one of the happiest days of my life. I never thought this [expansion] would happen so soon," Dr Kanathigoda said.
Ms Fitzharris said the donation coincided with territory and federal government negotiations around the national health funding agreement.
"The worlds aligned and those conversations all took place at the same time and I proposed to [Health Minister Greg] Hunt that a very worthwhile investment in the ACT from the Commonwealth could be to partner with the ACT government and the Snow Foundation for this significant expansion," Ms Fitzharris said.
"Our undertaking in the ACT government is once we have these buildings completed is to be able to fund the extra doctors and nurses and research activity that will take place here."
She was still considering whether a dedicated palliative care ward was required in the Canberra Hospital.
"We need to get the right model so we can sure we’re delivering the best possible services right across the territory," Ms Fitzharris said.
"It may well be it's a different type of model at Canberra Hospital than it is here at Clare Holland House but those are all part of the territory wide planning under way."
The news will likely be welcomed by those who've struggled to get their loved ones into Clare Holland House in recent years.
Retired surgeon Dr Verinder Sapra said Clare Holland House was a "blessing". His wife was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, and moved to the hospice five weeks ago after receiving care at home for the last year.
"I’d been the sole carer which was really hard for me because she can hardly move her feet, she can’t even go to the bathroom so that’s why we brought her in," Dr Sapra said.
And while Dr Sapra said there needed to be more support to help people die at home, the hospice was a good compromise.
"You have the right to live with respect and die with respect. If that can’t happen at home, then this is the place," Dr Sapra said.
“I would never have imagined such a place existed, I’ve been in medical practice for the last 50 years and I haven’t seen a place like that, the staff are so dedicated, so passionate day in day out, how do they keep up with this? It’s unbelievable."
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