Help keep kids at home this Christmas by donating to Grampians Health at Home Paediatric Program

Friday 24 November 2023

Grampians Health Ballarat has its Christmas Appeal to support its new Grampians Health at Home Paediatric Program. Grampians Health at Home Paediatrics Program, which is the newest stream of at-home care, looks after children with both acute and chronic conditions in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes.

Matthew Drake, Grampians Health at Home Paediatric Navigator, says that the program aims to keep families together.

“When kids are in hospital, they often don’t eat and drink as they normally would. They may also feel anxious due to the busyness of the ward and a lot of unfamiliar people around them. These aspects can have a real impact on their ability to go home. As much as we make sure the kid’s ward is friendly and playful, it’s just not like being at home. We all know that there is no place like home.

“In our paediatric program, we look after kids we classify as well enough to be cared for at home and who do not require a hospital bed. They can be cared for by our specialist paediatric nurses, with access to doctors and medications. They will receive the same level of care as they would receive in the hospital. We are asking for our community’s help to let us expand the care we can provide. We are asking for your help to purchase patient monitors, baby scales, feeding kits, thermometers, and anaphylaxis and oximetry bags.”

Rebekah Fisher is mum to daughter Zoe, who is two years old. She is the little sister of Avril and she loves riding her scooter and colouring in. However, Zoe has spent nearly half of her life in hospital. She was born 8 weeks premature, and with a genetic condition which means she has three heart conditions and other chronic issues that leave her susceptible to severe respiratory and cardiac illnesses.

Zoe sleeps with a BiPAP machine every night, and her parents monitor her oxygen saturation and heart rate. However, when she gets very unwell, Zoe is admitted to the Children’s Ward at Ballarat Base Hospital (through the Emergency Department). When she invariably deteriorates further, she is transported to the Royal Children’s Hospital via PIPER (Paediatric Infant Perinatal Emergency Retrieval). Once stabilised, she is admitted back into the Children’s Ward at the Base, and then home. Each of these hospital admissions is typically a week-long each.

Ms Fisher describes the impact of having a chronically ill child on family life. “Avril [Zoe’s older sister] was only two years old when Zoe was born. We often have to call an ambulance for Zoe in the middle of the night, and Avril will wake up in the morning and her mummy and sister are gone. “Sometimes her dad would have gone to work and her grandparents are waiting for her when she wakes up. It has caused so much stress and anxiety for all of us. It’s hard for a family to be separated.”

Support from Grampians Health at Home would reduce the amount of time Zoe would need to spend in hospital. It could provide oxygen support, feeding tubes, nutritional support and wound care.

“We’re trying to create as normal a life as possible for our girls. More time at home means less financial, emotional, mental, and physical stress, not just on Zoe, but the family unit as a whole, and that will always benefit Zoe,” said Ms Fisher.

Sarah Masters, Head of Fundraising and Engagement at Grampians Health Ballarat, thanked the Ballarat community for their ongoing support of our public health service.

“Twice a year we ask our community to donate to our appeals. Community support means we can assist in providing innovative equipment and services, such as our Grampians Health at Home Paediatric Program, to families in our community. We all know that there is no place like home, and this program really does help keep families together.

“We know that many people in our community are experiencing financial challenges at this time, but please know that every donation, no matter the size, really does help provide the exceptional public healthcare that we all rely upon.”

To make a tax-deductible donation to help support our Grampians Health at Home Paediatric Program, please visit

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