Queanbeyan needs a respite care facility, community says

Fighting for a cause: Yvonne Cuschieri is the founder of the Cancer Support Group, and is now determined to help build a respite facility in Queanbeyan. Photo: Jamila Toderas.

Fighting for a cause: Yvonne Cuschieri is the founder of the Cancer Support Group, and is now determined to help build a respite facility in Queanbeyan. Photo: Jamila Toderas.

As a woman who has spent most of her life campaigning for people in need, Yvonne Cuschieri has no intention of slowing down just yet.

The founder of the ACT Eden-Monaro Cancer Support Group is calling for a respite care facility in Queanbeyan, purpose built and age-inclusive.

Mrs Cuschieri’s son, Steven, was 53 when he was put into a nursing home as the only available option for respite care in Queanbeyan and Canberra. He had terminal cancer, and a combination of being wheelchair-bound and the chemotherapy drugs he was given saw him balloon in weight.

This made it near impossible for his parents to bathe him. It was at that point a health care professional recommended Mrs and Mr Cuschieri take some time out and put him in respite.

Mrs Cuschieri was uneasy about her son being placed in nursing home, in a shared room with two elderly people. However, it was their only option. He was eventually moved into a private room when one became available.

The family believe the events that led to Steven’s death were avoidable. He died less than two months after being admitted to the facility. It was the day before he was due to be taken home.

That was almost three years ago.

Mrs Cuschieri has teamed up with passionate Queanbeyan residents Paul Walshe and Hugh Percy to call for a dedicated respite facility to service the growing city and its surrounds.

Their petition has so far garnered more than 1000 signatures.

“To me, respite care is very important for the area,” Mrs Cuschieri said. “Would you like to put your 15-year-old, 20-year-old, or 30-year-old into a nursing home? It’s just not good enough.”

The trio is calling on the state government to fund a feasibility study into a new facility. Paul Walshe said it was an essential service the area needed.

“It’s so carers can recharge their batteries and then continue with their caring duties,” Mr Walshe said.

He said if the government would look at the cost, location and design, the trio was prepared to raise the money to fund the build.

The petition had garnered more than 1000 signatures. Sign it online at this link.

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