World Hospice and Palliative Care Day

The story of Very Special Kids is the story of the thousands of heart-warming moments that our hospice has contributed to each and every year since it opened. Saturday 9 October is World Hospice and Palliative Care Day and an opportunity to celebrate that story with an eye to what’s ahead.

It all started in 1984, when two families who were supporting each other through the trauma of their children’s terminal illnesses recognised a need for help for other families like theirs. As more people came together with this shared desire, our organisation was born.

It was the steadfast vision of our first employee and Patron, Sister Margaret Noone AM, who decided that there was a huge need for specialised palliative care and a home-away-from-home for children, both for respite and end-of-life care. The Very Special Kids hospice was then established in 1996, making it the first paediatric hospice opened in Australia and remains the only children’s hospice in Victoria today.

Our purpose is the same today as it was when we were founded over 35 years ago. We work tirelessly to bring our purpose to life; improving the quality of life for children with life-limiting conditions and their families through specialist children’s palliative care across Victoria.

The hospice also provides a much-needed break for parents who are often the sole, round-the-clock carers. It also offers essential support with family counselling and programs for siblings of sick children to guide them through difficult times.

Now, in its most significant service improvement project ever, we are embarking on a complete rebuild of our hospice with a completion date of 2023.

Very Special Kids Chief Executive Officer Michael Wasley said the organisation has spent more than three years researching what will make the new build the world’s best hospice.

“The new hospice will be world-class with state-of-the-art and best-practice clinical facilities to better support children of every age, size, nationality and functional capability. It will offer more specialised services for children as well as a semi-private space for adolescents to better respect their maturity and desire for independence. There will also be a dedicated area to allow for greater privacy and space to support a family’s final wishes for their child,” he said.

As we look back to look forward, we reflect on the history of Very Special Kids, the milestones and alliances along the way and where we are today. We have come so far, but we still have so much more to do to change the future of children’s palliative care.