STAFF CONCERN: Ex-nurse manager Gary Cox outside Katie Rose Cottage at Doonan.
STAFF CONCERN: Ex-nurse manager Gary Cox outside Katie Rose Cottage at Doonan. Geoff Potter

Palliative care jobs go as Katie Rose hospice hunts funding

DESPITE most of Gary Cox's life having been given over to nursing, with caring for the dying a long-time speciality, Katie Rose's last gasp was tough to bear.

And while the ex-nurse manager hopes that the Sunshine Hospice service, which has operated at Doonan's Katie Rose Cottage can be saved, Mr Cox and 12 of his palliative care staff don't expect to be part of its revival.

Mr Cox, a former United Kingdom nurse with more than 35 years' experience, moved his family up from Melbourne to help reopen Katie Rose in January 2012 after a previous closure.

The hospice board is now looking to secure State Government funding so it can once more help give dignity to the dying in this peaceful place with its rural setting, but Mr Cox said his position had been made redundant.

Mr Cox said his team was let go "about 10 days before Christmas" because of the service's precarious financial position.

Two office workers were kept on.

"I don't want to come across as a disgruntled person, I'm really not," he said. "The paid staff who gave all that care that the place is famous for have gone and they're not coming back.

"The place is a building, the hospice is the people who are in it," he said.

"They (the board) may look back on the last three or four years as sort of the glory days."

Mr Cox is confident he will find more work.

"I know one of the girls working on the Cittimani hospice there," he said.

"A couple of the girls are looking around and whoever gets these team of nurses will be blessed because they're a fantastic bunch."

What still rankles with Mr Cox is that it appears his team has been "looked on as a bit of a throwaway commodity".

Mr Cox said he received a one-line notice from the board saying "thank you for your contribution to the hospice".

He said it was a case of "we'll get rid of that bunch, but we'll get some more in, that's okay".

He was not sure of Katie Rose's future. There was talk of closing the place indefinitely but not permanently, which "sounds a bit strange to me".

Mr Cox said there was a need for a hospice to help provide palliative care.

"We were still taking phone calls (for potential places at Katie Rose) on the day we were closing up.

"There was a lady coming from Noosa we had to say no to. I heard the phrase on the TV - 'we're going to come back leaner and meaner'," he said. "They're two phrases you don't want to hear in palliative care."

Mr Cox said if people were expected to donate to the hospice they would have to have more certainty about its future.

The hospice board declined to comment.