Little Haven Palliative Care History

Little Haven Palliative Care was founded in 1980 by Mrs Phyl Little (which is where the “Little” in Little Haven comes from. Having lost her husband, a daughter, and a nephew to cancer Mrs Little saw a need for better community support for cancer sufferers and their carers.

A group of friends and supporters joined together with the aim of building a hospice in Gympie for terminally ill patients, and to provide whatever support they could. For years, this group was funded solely by community donations, and literally operated out of the boot of a car, providing cancer support, respite care and equipment loans. Much of the money raised by this group went towards setting up the two palliative care rooms in the Gympie General Hospital.

In 1989 Little Haven Cooloola / Sunshine Coast Palliative Care became an incorporated organisation.

Mrs Little’s vision was to build a hospice for terminally ill patients to be cared for in their final days. Over the years with government funding remaining elusive, despite Phyllis’s constant lobbying, the vision changed. With the majority of Australians wishing to die at home or at least to be supported there for as long as possible, the committee focused it’s energies on providing home based palliative/hospice care.

Little Haven Palliative Care introduces Nursing Support 
In 1992 the committee employed Mrs Lou Beresford RN part-time to coordinate palliative care services for cancer sufferers and the terminally ill, initially working from her home and then, in 1997, moving to rooms in the Hospital.
In 1999 under a Federal Government initiative, Queensland Health provided partial funding to community groups for palliative care services, with additional funding being received from the Commonwealth Government National Health Reforms in 2011. Today total Government funding covers approximately 35% of the direct care budget with the remainder being raised through community support and self driven fundraising.

A permanent home for Little Haven was also offered in the Gympie General Hospital grounds and working from that administrative base a full range of palliative care services was made available by specialist palliative care nurses employed to provide in the home hospice care 24 hours per day, 365 days a year.”

At Little Haven, we provide the hospice service in patient’s home, where with the assistance of our professional palliative care team, the terminally ill can live their last months or days with the people they love around them in their familiar environment.

In 2004 Little Haven Palliative Care recognising the need for follow up bereavement care for our patient families, enhanced our service by employing of a Bereavement Support Nurse. Little Haven’s specialised palliative care nursing and bereavement support is now provided to over 225 families in the Gympie and surrounding region each year.

Over our 39 year history we have developed, shaped and expanded our service to meet the community needs; constantly evolving and intuitively introducing improved supportive services like complementary therapies, bereavement support, respite care and support to renal dialysis and chemotherapy patients – setting the standards for all Australians.

At the heart of our mission is enhancing the quality of remaining life, so that those in the final stage of life can live as fully, independently, and comfortably as possible. Our model of care which values early access to palliative care at any time in the disease trajectory and genuine 24/7 on call support to minimise hospital presentations is reflective of that mission.

Little Haven has a long history in Qld of enabling people in our community to;

  • receive health and social care that supports their well being, irrespective of their diagnosis, sex, gender, age, socio-economic background or proximity to death.
  • have opportunities to discuss and plan for future possible decline in health, preferably before a crisis occurs, and are supported to retain independence for as long as possible.
  • have their end of life care wishes respected

In our community people know how to help and support each other at times of increased health need and in bereavement, recognising the importance of families and communities working alongside formal services.

To the team at Little Haven. Such beautiful care you all gave to my  husband while he was so very ill. It’s so comforting to have such wonderful nurses out there, knowing when called you would be there. I could not have done without your kind help. – Family Member

2024 Update:

In 2022-23 the University of the Sunshine Coast (Unisc) conducted a comprehensive 12 month evaluation of the Community Based Palliative Care Model that Little Haven has developed in the Gympie region over the past 40 years. That report is now published on this site and you can view it here.