Boost to bridge gap

PROUD: Jeremy and Belinda McKnight are passionate to build on their daughter's legacy in palliative care for regional areas. Picture: Lachlan Bence
PROUD: Jeremy and Belinda McKnight are passionate to build on their daughter's legacy in palliative care for regional areas. Picture: Lachlan Bence

New funding for a Mount Glasgow based charity will support more terminally ill people across regional Victoria to die at home. 

When Shannon McKnight met Creswick doctor Claire Hepper, she knew her legacy would be secure. Ms Knight, who died of leukaemia in March 2016 aged 19, is living on through the work of her parents Jeremy and Belinda McKnight, in providing terminally ill patients a chance to live out their final days at home.

Shannon’s Bridge, a not-for-profit organisation set up to honour Ms McKnight was on Wednesday the recipient of a $2.5 million state government grant which will enable it to increase its work right across Victoria.

Shannon’s Bridge provides palliative care for patients wanting to live out their final days the way they see fit.

Mr McKnight said Shannon’s Bridge already serviced the Goldfields region, but new funding would help establish another four charity bases around Victoria.

NON-PROFIT: The legacy of Shannon McKnight will live on through palliative care organisation Shannon's Bridge, set up by her parents Jeremy and Belinda McKnight. Picture: DYLAN BURNS

NON-PROFIT: The legacy of Shannon McKnight will live on through palliative care organisation Shannon's Bridge, set up by her parents Jeremy and Belinda McKnight. Picture: DYLAN BURNS

Mr McKnight said it was important for his daughter to be able to die at home and Dr Hepper had made that possible. Dr Hepper provided the much needed support for Shannon in her final days, preparing a medical pack that allowed her to go home.

“Shannon was back with us for four days and we had to use the pack four times, otherwise it meant we would have had to take her back to hospital,” Mr McKnight said.

“But we were able to keep Shannon at home and she died in my arms exactly where she wanted to be.”

The packs are emergency symptom relief packs and are designed to help people who can not access 24-hour care. They can be tailored to the individual patient needs with the family or carer given instructions in the use of them. 

Dr Hepper said the grant would enable the regional pilot program to expand statewide.

“End of life care is a big area and health services can’t do it on their own, GPs can’t do it alone, we have to gather the community and do it together,” Dr Hepper said. “We want everyone in Australia to be able to have access to excellent palliative care wherever they live, regardless of postcode.”