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Turning dreams into realities

10 May 2022

Palliative care
Established in 2018, St John of God Health Care’s Dream A Little Dream initiative has been bringing a little joy and comfort to patients and their families at a time where a lot of grief is being experienced also.

“It’s a service that is aligned with the Values that St John of God Health Care upholds — Respect, Compassion, Hospitality, Excellence and Justice,” said South East Melbourne Hospitals Director of Mission Integration Rhonda O’Connor.

“This service which grants dying wishes aims to provide some relief, comfort, support and happiness to people who are experiencing an event that will change their lives forevermore.”

Despite the fact that the Dream A Little Dream program was initially developed to benefit palliative care patients, family members were in turn included because St John of God Health Care understood that their lives were about to fundamentally change also. That meant that even when a palliative care patient was nearing the final stages of their lives and for whom wishes could no longer be granted, the program had the flexibility to support the caregivers and families who were also suffering.

“As part of this program we’ve had massage therapists volunteer their time to soothe the aches and pains of people maintaining bedside vigils for loved ones. We’ve coordinated family photo shoots and we’ve gifted keepsakes to family members such as photo blankets to wrap around the children of patients who have passed in our care,” shared Rhonda.

“We’ve even had famous footballers volunteer their time to put a smile on the face of their most avid supporters and I can tell you, that wasn’t for the sole enjoyment of our palliative care patient,” said Rhonda. “In this particular instance, the friends and family of our patient were invited to partake in an afternoon tea. Our catering staff made a cake and other sweets in team colours and when news got around that Melbourne Football Club’s Russell Robertson was onsite it attracted the attention of other supporters who stopped by for a peek at the sporting legend. It really paved the way for a fun afternoon creating long lasting, happy memories for all involved.”

Since its inception, the Dream A Little Dream program has garnered much support from the local community. From the donation of funds, to the volunteering of time and services, the compassion and generosity shown by businesses and residents alike has enabled Dream A Little Dream to not only grant wishes, but also the ability to purchase equipment to bring those dreams to life.

“Many of our patients who become immobile due to deteriorating health or an inability to travel can use the VR goggles purchased through the Dream A Little Dream fund to visit faraway places or experience thrills that are sadly no longer within their reach,” explained Rhonda. “It’s a fantastic way to make the impossible, possible for our patients.”

If you’d like to learn more or donate your time, services or funds to this service, visit Dream a Little Dream program.

Jennine Dodd - Copywriter
Jennine Dodd is a copywriter for St John of God Health Care's South East Melbourne hospitals. She has more than 20 years’ experience in interviewing, and writing/editing for magazines, company publications, social media and websites.