Dr. Claire Hepper is a GP working and living in Creswick, Victoria, where she was born and raised. Her father, Brian, was a solo GP, working and living in Creswick for the past 43 years, and the inspiration for the “cradle-to-grave and beyond” continuity of community compassionate approach that Claire aspires to deliver.
Her passion is assisting patients with understanding their options for end-of-life care and promoting the patient as being ‘the captain of their own ship’. Claire and Dr. Allison O’Neill worked with Jeremy and Belinda McKnight to found “Shannon’s Bridge” in 2016, a charity named in honour of Jeremy and Belinda’s 19 year old daughter Shannon who died at home in regional Victoria in May 2016.
Shannon’s Bridge is a not-for-profit volunteer-run organisation which helps connect patients and families with services and supports at end of life. Where there is a geographical or temporal gap in those services, Shannon’s Bridge upskills community members to support the family and reduce unplanned readmissions to hospital. In 2018, Shannon’s Bridge received its funding from Victorian Government DHHS, under the Ancillary Palliative Care Services Grant program, enabling them to work in more areas across Victoria. Shannon’s Bridge is now also working in collaboration with the federal caring@home project to help health services teach carers how to administer subcutaneous medications in terminal care. By following the Compassionate Community approach, Dr. Claire helps communities negotiate a crisis and then advocating for structures to be put in place to avoid a future crisis. Shannon’s Bridge has been working throughout Australia to support the model of ‘bridging the gap’ between formal and informal health services. She is also on the Board of Palliative Care Victoria and part of the Clinical Advisory Committee for Palliative Care Australia.
She has a special interest in palliative care, advanced care planning, aged care, beer and the Celtic Football Club.