Fulfilling wishes, celebrating lives launch

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On Thursday 28th October, Ambulance Wish Western Australia launched its new service to fulfil final wishes for West Australians who are terminally ill or receiving palliative care. The first of its kind in Western Australia, the service creates significant positive impact for terminally ill West Australians and their families.

Two recently donated, decommissioned ambulances allowed the charity to launch this heart-warming service earlier than originally planned. The launch – at Perth City Farm – provided an opportunity for palliative care specialists and practitioners to meet the Wish Ambulances, committee members, volunteers and supporters and learn more about how individuals, clinicians and family members can apply for a final wish.

Wish Ambulance Hydi was donated by BP (Kwinana) and is named after their refinery equipment. Hydi was the emergency response ambulance at Kwinana, but following the closure of the refinery and the creation of a clean energy hub, an ambulance was no longer required on site and was donated to the Ambulance Wish Western Australia. The second vehicle – Kees – was donated by St John WA. It has been named in honour of the late Kees Velboer, the creator of Stichting Ambulance Wens (Ambulance Wish Foundation, The Netherlands) and a huge inspiration in the development of Ambulance Wish Western Australia.

launch
Ambulance Wish Western Australia representatives Susie & Gary Wilson with Kerryn Welke from St John WA and Jamie Townsend from BP and the two Wish Ambulances, Kees and Hydi.

The charity’s mission is to give people living with terminal illness, regardless of age, the resources, specialist transport and medical care they need to fulfil their final wishes, with no charge for the recipient – improving the quality of the dying experience for the individuals and their families. Previously, terminally ill and palliative West Australians, who are often immobile, were dying without being given the opportunity to fulfil their last wishes because there was no means to transport them out of their hospices or homes.

Ambulance Wish Western Australia provides a no-cost service to support people in end of life care to visit a place of personal significance. It is intended to not only bring joy to the individual, but to also ensure beautiful memories for their family and friends.

For people with terminal illness or in palliative care, a simple chance to reconnect with their lives in their final days can mean the world. Ambulance Wish Western Australia will give them an opportunity to visit a place of personal significance – whether that’s to admire their own garden, to feel the breeze of the ocean, or to simply be surrounded by their loved ones and pets. Journeys are focused on Wish Recipients and families making new memories as well as enjoying their trip down memory lane.

Susie Wilson, chair of the charity’s management committee, said it is usually the little things that mean the most to a person nearing the end of their life:

“That is where Ambulance Wish can make such a difference, customising and honouring wishes to celebrate a person’s life and bring comfort to those closest to them – acknowledging that great care includes physical, mental and spiritual and extends beyond the individual.

“Ambulance Wish Western Australia will try to bring peace to the final period of critically ill, immobile West Australians and to ease the grieving process by eliciting and implementing a wish identified by individuals, families or clinicians. The Ambulance Wish programme seeks to provide care, even after accepting that death is imminent, by fulfilling wishes that celebrate a person’s life and passions. This can ease grief for families by providing a means for them to support their loved ones, and can allow clinicians to provide something for their patients even when they are unable to do so medically. Fulfilling wishes for those who have little time left will leave a lasting and memorable impact on all those involved.”

Ambulance Wish Western Australia is a dedicated, volunteer-run and donor-funded service and Wish Recipients are accompanied by qualified and trained volunteers. The volunteer team eases the suffering of the terminally ill by allowing them to experience joyous family occasions, visit family and friends, meaningful places, or do simple everyday activities that would otherwise be out of reach.

Initially fulfilling final wishes in the Perth Metropolitan region, the Registered Charity hopes, with sufficient funding, to be able to expand into regional Western Australia.

Ambulance Wish Western Australia is a member of the global Ambulance Wish Foundation (AWF) community, which was born in Rotterdam in 2007. Ambulance Wish Western Australia is one of only three Australian organisations to bring this service to our shores, with Ambulance Wish Western Australia becoming the first service of its kind to operate in Western Australia.

During an individual’s final months, weeks or days, Ambulance Wish Western Australia will make it possible to bring them joy and comfort through visiting a familiar place that reignites precious memories, or fulfilling something special on their bucket list that can give them a sense of achievement and excitement. It will also be possible to gather family and friends to create a lasting memory, one last celebration of their loved one.

Wishes can be requested through the Wishes page on the website. Hydi awaits her finishing touches (and livery) to be able to offer the initial final wishes while we continue works to get Kees in commission, then the charity will have the ability to fulfil two final wishes for terminally ill West Australians every day.