Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Hospice care close to volunteer's heart

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SUPPORTING WAIPUNA: Craig McCord and his team will be donning shorts to show their support for the Waipuna Hospice.PHOTO/SUPPLIED
SUPPORTING WAIPUNA: Craig McCord and his team will be donning shorts to show their support for the Waipuna Hospice.PHOTO/SUPPLIED

For Craig McCord it's been a family affair.

His father, mother, sister, cousin, wife and himself have all volunteered and worked at Waipuna Hospice.

"It's doing our bit for the community," he said.

He also knows first-hand how good the facilities and staff are at the Waipuna Hospice.

His mother - a long serving and popular volunteer at the Greerton Hospice shop - sadly became a patient and was cared for and supported by Waipuna Hospice until she passed away last year.

"She ended up getting cancer quite quickly, she ended up in our in-patient care for her last two weeks before she passed away.

"It wasn't until I was on that side of the fence, [it made me realise how good the services were]."

Mr McCord said undoubtedly the ordeal would have been far worse without the support of the organisation.

"You could see she felt she was in a safe place. She was comfortable where she was, we were all very comfortable in the environment.

"We say you die with dignity and she definitely did. Pain-free with dignity, with her family around her."

Mr McCord has been on the board of trustees for the hospice for 12 years.

When he first started there were 25 full-time employees with 130 volunteers. Today, there are 105 full-time employees with 740 volunteers. At any one time there would be between 250 and 300 patients on their books.

Over the last 12 years he has seen the hospice grow four times its size and become more independent with its own generator and solar power as well as being put on to main sewage lines.

Mr McCord said there were not many people in the community who had not been touched by the hospice in some shape or form.

"I have always classified it as 'our' facility, it's our community and we are all stake holders. That is important, that everybody in the community realises and acknowledges it. It is a free service to the community, which is vital."

New Zealand has eight or nine palliative care specialists with three of them based at Waipuna Hospice, in Tauranga.

"We can offer the best care for people dying. But more importantly, or just as importantly, we can offer the support services for the children and family involved."

Mr McCord said as part of the last upgrade the organisation now had a day stay service where a patient could see a medical professional, a biographer or a masseuse, the chaplin, or a councillor.

"A lot of people think its like Hotel California, you come in the doors and don't go out," he said. "With these medical staff we have they can often give people a bit more time and quality of life with their loved ones," he said.

His tenure at the hospice will come to a close later this year with his time spent there, "a privilege," he said.

- Waipuna Hospice has called on businesses and individuals in the Bay to wear their brightest, boldest, baggiest or briefest shorts to raise money for the services they provide as part of Shorts4Waipuna on June 21. Visit to register yourself or your work place.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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