Final wish to die at home: palliative care service gets funding boost

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

Jeremy McKnight. Picture: Dylan Burns

Jeremy McKnight. Picture: Dylan Burns

Health Minister Jill Hennessy will today announce $2.5 million funding for Shannon’s Bridge, an organisation started by Jeremy McKnight after the death of his daughter Shannon in 2016. 

The not-for-profit aims to help connect patients with existing palliative care services and supports to achieve their final wish of dying at home, one Mr McKnight was able to make come true for his daughter.

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

“For that amount of funding, what we’re actually looking at is not just a Shannon’s Bridge for x amount of time, it’s so we can actually roll on and continue in each of those areas and train people,” he said. 

“What we realised was the biggest help that kept us going was just individual people who probably thought nothing much of what they were doing, but it actually got us through that next day, the next test, the next lot of results. She made me promise we would build this up and help people no matter where they were or what their need was.”

My daughter and I spoke the day before she died, and she made me promise that we would help others.

Jeremy McKnight, Shannon's Bridge founder

Shannon’s Bridge provides palliative care kits called Shannon’s Packs. The kits contain a number of medicines, tools and information sheets to help people die at home in relative comfort. The first pack was made for Shannon to help make her comfortable when she was dying at home.

Mr McKnight said improving palliative care required a multi-faceted approach, but community awareness and continued support from the government and health industry would make a difference to so many people. 

“My wife Belinda is my world, but because Shannon’s not in it, a lot of the joy is gone. But the ability to give and help these people even a little in what we know is a horrible time is an amazing feeling. It helps us and gives us something personally to get up in the morning,” he said. 

The funding is part of a $5.5 million Victorian government grants program which will provide funding to six palliative care services in Victoria.