WHEN Joanna Findlay was turned away from a palliative care facility after being diagnosed with a terminal disease, she feared she would not be able to find help and support.
That was until she found Braeside Hospital.
The 53-year-old Greenfield Park resident is diagnosed with motor neurone disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig's disease.
Gehrig, considered the greatest first baseman of all time, had his New York Yankees career cut short by the disease.
"You see what's available for you here and how it impacts on your everyday life — you're very grateful for what you've got," Mrs Findlay said of Braeside.
"They make you feel comfortable with all your aches and pains. If you want to talk to someone you can talk to anyone — if you need to be seen by a doctor — you're seen then and there.
"I hate it when we lose someone in the group, but that's reality and this place prepares you for reality."
ALS affects motor neurons, the nerve cells controlling the muscles of the trunk, limbs, speech, swallowing and breathing.
Muscle weakness is the result of damaged nerves, which leads to gradual paralysis, loss of speech, difficulty swallowing and eventual death from respiratory complications.
Mrs Findlay attends the palliative care day service at Braeside Hospital every Friday.
The facility is is open four days a week to patients who are well enough to be at home, but need the centre for services including physiotherapy, care and pain relief.
Mrs Findlay said Braeside had become her "little family" and the support was invaluable.
"It's important to me and my family," she said.
"When I go home from here my spirit is boosted and I feel no matter what is wrong I have people I can ring up at any time, and support me.
"I can honestly say they have built up my spirit since I've been coming here.
"They add to my will to live."
She feared the federal government's decision to discontinue funding of the hospital's four days, would take away the "family environment, compassion and security" the service offered patients.
"If they cut this down to two days, how am I going to get the attention I am getting now that is very valuable to me?," Mrs Findlay said.
"Without these facilities where do we go? What do we do? Do we just just give up?"
The Federal Government funding cut will only affect Braeside's day service, not other palliative care services.
Braeside also offers rehabilitation, a 20-bed inpatient palliative care unit, outpatient clinics and after-hours telephone advice, and older persons' mental health services.