Melbourne Zen Hospice
|Melbourne Zen Hospice |
Melbourne Zen Hospice
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|Phone||(03) 9885 5725|
|Mobile||0410 827 027|
|Postal Address||PO Box 329 Albert Park, Vic.3206|
The Melbourne Zen Hospice provides free home support and companionship to persons of any age, gender, religious and cultural background, who are living with an advanced life-limiting illness, and to their carers and family members living with them, anywhere across inner suburban Melbourne. Our work is about offering practical, emotional, and/or spiritual support, that is highly personalized, dependable, and complementary with other palliative care and medical services. We do what we do not as something unique or special, but simply to contribute directly and engage compassionately in supporting the present life of those who contact us and whom we visit.
Who We Are
We are a socially-engaged Zen Buddhist organization based in Melbourne, Australia. As our main project, we are operating a small-scale community hospice service, dedicated to providing practical and spiritual outreach support to those facing life's impermanence through a life-limiting illness. We do what we do on a voluntary basis, and we receive donations to cover our operating costs, as well as to expand our service to be able to support more people. At present, our physical home is just a small office, which means we are not yet able to offer any inpatient services, and our service consists of reaching out to patients and their carers and provide practical and spiritual home support anywhere across inner Melbourne.
zen.org.au is an organization whose founding mission is to establish and operate selected charitable programs and activities to help support the general health and welfare of individuals and the community through socially-engaged Zen Buddhist practice consistent with the approach of Mahayana Buddhism. The Melbourne Zen Hospice is the inaugural project of zen.org.au and a program whose specific mission is to provide free, confidential, practical, dependable, and compassionate home-support and companionship to persons with an advanced life-limiting illness who are living at home, and to their carers and any family members who may be living with them.
zen.org.au was founded in 2005 by Seikan Cech, a Zen monk living in Melbourne, Australia, with a vision of developing and operating projects to help support those of us who are experiencing potentially difficult life situations, and do so in ways able to give expression to Zen Buddhist teachings and practice. In 2006, based on input from the early supporters of zen.org.au, it was agreed to develop as the inaugural project by zen.org.au a Buddhist home hospice service, to be known as the Melbourne Zen Hospice. In early 2007, zen.org.au became formally registered as a non-profit Pty Ltd organization, with pro-bono legal assistance having been generously provided by Melbourne law firm AllensArthurRobinson. Around the same time, zen.org.au also launched its present website. As from March 2007, the Melbourne Zen Hospice has formally started accepting patient referrals, with an information and increased public awareness campaign about our service being gradually implemented since then.
Our approach is simple, open, and dependable. When we meet with a patient, carer, and/or family at their home, we inquire and clarify with them how we may best assist. We do not discriminate between helping with practical tasks around the house, or simply sitting with patients by their bedside and getting to know them in conversation and silence. On request, we can also provide acupuncture for pain relief, or reiki for relaxation. In most instances, we are able to assist with all of the above, and arrange with patients to visit them at regular times once or twice a week. Where appropriate and practicable, we can also provide regular respite time for carers during those times. We approach our work with compassion and presence. In doing so, we find that we can only be compassionate and present to each other's mortality and suffering to the extent that we are aware of our own. Thus the relationships we form with those whom we support can become deeply mutual. To be caring for a person who is dying is nothing new. We have been doing it for each other for thousands of generations. This is simply another opportunity of doing so time after time, always here and now.
"During my husband's last year, Seikan was a kind and generous carer. He visited us regularly at home, bringing positive energy, inner calm, practical support, and wisdom. I can only imagine how difficult and lonely our situation would have been without his help" (Susan F., Caulfield, Victoria).
"Trevor and I met Seikan after Trevor was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. We have found Seikan to be a compassionate person. His regular visits to our home have been so welcome, and have helped us in finding trust, hope, and peace" (Joye and Trevor Scutcher, East St.Kilda, Victoria).
"My partner underwent the usual routine of radiotherapy, major surgery and chemotherapy, following diagnosis of cancer of the larynx and later the oesophagus - until the hospital could come up with no further treatments! We were then cast adrift ... Seikan, founder of Melbourne Zen Hospice, became our mainstay; offering meditation, massage, even games of chess (one of my partner's favourite past-times). Eventually Seikan simply helped my partner relax during his last 6 weeks, which he endured without food or drink as he elected not to be fed artificially. He had been through enough. Seikan then also acted as celebrant at the funeral. He continues visiting me to help me deal with my feelings. He is a unique individual who is devoting himself to assist those facing the end of life, which most people have difficulty even discussing" (Beverley McIntyre, Hawthorn, Victoria).
"I have been meaning to tell you how great it was to see you at mum's recently ... I am starting to think, as a society, we spend a lot of money looking for cures but not a lot on patient care. There is so much focus on avoiding death rather than looking after an individual's wellbeing. There have been great advances in treatments but this can become a cancer patient's whole life - having treatment and waiting for the next (bad) result" (Sarah Jackson, daughter of Gordon and Marilyn Beazley, Macleod, Victoria).
What We Offer
We offer dependable, confidential and caring home support and companionship to persons of any age and background who are living at home with an advanced life-limiting illness, as well as to any carers and family members who are living with them. We offer all that we do free of any charge. To be able to do so, we welcome donations from individuals and groups who wish to support us in the work we do. Depending on what is requested from us, and what is appropriate for each situation, we are able to provide assistance in any or all of the following ways:
We provide practical home help of whatever kind that is most helpful and most appropriate to assist patients who are approaching the end of life to be able to do so in their own home surroundings. Where appropriate we try to provide regular respite to caregivers, as well as help to complement the support from other community services with whatever work that may need doing around the house. This usually includes that we help with everyday household tasks, such as cleaning, washing, shopping, and/or cooking of meals.
As indicated by our name, we offer spiritual support based on Zen Buddhist teachings and practice. Using compassion and mindfulness, we mutually support one another's capacity to be present and open to our life at this moment. This support is made available to both patients and caregivers by volunteers who are trained and able to continue to provide it through all stages of illness and bereavement. We offer support to patients of any religious orientation. Patients who happen to have a special interest in Zen Buddhism are welcome to share in meditation practice, as well as to have relevant Zen Buddhist rituals and/or dedications performed for them.
Some of our volunteers are trained to be able to offer reiki treatments to patients for therapy and relaxation. These treatments involve just a gentle placing of hands on a clothed patient, without any use of massage techniques or other active methods. Patients with interest in traditional Chinese medicine may also arrange to have regular free acupuncture treatments provided by Seikan, who is a qualified and registered acupuncturist. Please note that we can only provide complementary therapies on the basis that they be used to complement, rather than replace, any medical support and prescribed medication that may be required.
Whom We Can Help
We are able to assist persons of any age with a diagnosed terminal medical condition who are living at home and would like to receive additional support. We are able to accept referrals in relation to most terminal medical conditions, including advanced stages of AIDS, cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, etc, where outreach palliative medical care is already being provided for the patient at home. New patient referrals are always welcome from any of the following sources: medical services, community services, individual healthcare workers such as doctors, nurses, and social workers, as well as patient carers, family members, and self-referrals from patients themselves.