Hospice offers many programs
Camrose Hospice Grief and Bereavement coordinator Bill Harder leads the annual Hike For Hospice around Mirror Lake in Camrose on May 7. Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian
The Hospice Society of Camrose and District is not letting the lack of a building stop them from delivering critical services to the community.
Hospice chairperson Stacey Strilchuk was at the City of Camrose committee of a whole meeting on Nov. 20 to deliver an update on their current search for an appropriate parcel of land to build a facility. The message she delivered is that their lack of a brick and mortar location has forced them to be innovative in the way they approach delivering palliative end of life care.
“We’ve really worked hard at getting into the community to educate individuals, their family and caregivers on the services and programs they do have access to,” said Strilchuk.
HSDC does look to the Alberta and Canadian Hospice Association for resources and program training that has been established, but their relationships with local health care providers like Covenant Health Alberta Health Services, the Primary Care Network has been unique.
“We are able to share resources and create a synergy … where caregivers and family members can come and just ask the question of what’s available at any part of their palliative and end of life journey,” said Strilchuk. “That’s unique to us because we are all rowing in the same direction and individuals are going to be able to take advantage of that because of the network here.”
Strilchuk added they receive four to five referrals every week and are seeing an increase in demand.
They offer many services that go beyond final days, including emotional and spiritual support, navigating issues, connecting people to resources and services, and promoting active engagement in the community. They also offer grief support for those left behind through walking groups, consultations, grief and bereavement workshops that routinely have between 30 and 35 people attend, and their Death Café. They also have a Men’s Cooking Circle, where widowers learn the basics of meal planning and cooking, but it goes beyond that.
“They’re socializing and having that conversation,” said Strilchuk.
They are finding there are many willing volunteers in the community as 15-20 individuals take part in their volunteer training sessions. Often times the volunteers are people who had a loved one or friend make use of the Hospice Society. They see the need and this is their way of giving back or honouring their spouse or parent or friend.
“We need to get those individuals engaged in every level palliative and end of life care,” said Strilchuk.
They are finding new ways of providing palliative support for patients wherever they may be, at the hospital, in a facility or in their homes. This is served by registered nurses making home visits in plain clothes to help maintain a level of dignity and to ensure their needs are being looked after.
Where a permanent hospice would serve the city and region is giving people that choice for service level if desired.
The key is finding an appropriate location or situation for such a facility.
“It might be building a hospice, it might be renovating a current home to fit our needs,” said Strilchuk. “When the time is right, the time is right, it will happen.”