Hospices facing funding challenges

Mercy Hospice in Auckland.

The chief executive of Te Korowai Atawhai Mercy Hospice in Auckland is facing funding challenges as a result of Covid-19-related restrictions. 

In a video message in a Whanau Mercy Mission newsletter, Dene Coleman said that many institutions like Mercy Hospice are currently facing such issues. 

“We don’t receive full funding. Palliative care gets less than half a per cent of the total [Government] health budget,” Mr Coleman said. 

Mercy Hospice has to raise about half its operational budget itself, to go on top of what it gets from Government. 

“I agree [with others who have spoken out on this] that it really questions the sustainability of the model going forward,” Mr Coleman said. 

“How do we continue to provide a service that is fit-for-purpose, is funded and supports people through what is an incredibly challenging period of their life – arguably the most challenging part of their life? We can’t afford to get it wrong for them,” Mr Coleman said. 

Since the delta Covid-19 outbreak and restrictions in August last year, Mercy Hospice’s shops lost about 14 weeks of retail operation, which was “incredibly difficult”, he noted.  

And with Omicron in the community, “people have changed behaviours – they are being much more cautious, they are not going out and shopping, they are not going to retail as much as they were before”. 

Moreover, Covid-19 restrictions meant Mercy Hospice could not run its “marquee” fundraising event last year. The event, which had been running for 15 years, is titled “10”, and features ten of Auckland’s top restaurants in a celebration of food and wine. It has been rescheduled for May this year. 

But Mr Coleman praised the efforts of Mercy Hospice’s fundraising team, which ran an emergency campaign before Christmas. A new “Lights to Remember” campaign saw $67,000 in donations come in. A cascade of lights adorning a large oak in the grounds of College Hill was the stunning centrepiece. The BNZ boosted the total by running a Double Donation Day during the campaign, a newsletter stated. This will be a yearly tradition at Mercy Hospice, and will let locals come and see “magical lights”. 

Mr Coleman said that this campaign, in remembrance of loved ones who had died previously, “created a connection from our supporters back to Mercy Hospice, which I think is very important”. 

Mr Coleman encouraged people with links to the hospice to stay connected with the organisation. 

“We appreciate it is difficult times for all in the community and, if you can’t contribute now in a financial way, maybe you can in the future? So, we just ask that people stay connected with us, stay understanding that we are in a challenging environment like many in the community. We don’t get fully funded, so we need so much more support. If you in the future are able to give in any small way, we would really welcome that.” 

He also encouraged people to support Mercy Hospice shops.  

“People should go away knowing that what they purchase from a hospice shop is going to support patients in one of those very challenging times of their lives.” 

A recent “Tennis for Mercy” event raised more than $16,300 for the hospice.   

 

 

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Michael Otto

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