One of the most important options to have at the end of life is access to hospice palliative care while surrounded by your loved ones in a compassionate and home-like environment.
However, since March 2020, there were no options due to the closure of Island Health’s four community hospice beds at Yucalta Lodge.
“Not having a hospice bed that included palliative care is devastating to our community. Families who need support at the end of life are left with two choices: to die at home or in the hospital,” says Louise Daviduck, Executive Director of the Campbell River Hospice. “Many people don’t want to die in their family home, leaving that memory behind. The hospital doesn’t allow the level of care, comfort and privacy that families need to say goodbye to their loved ones.”
While the goal is to reopen those beds, the ongoing need had to be addressed, so the Campbell River Hospice reached out to Evergreen Seniors Home. Evergreen has operated in the community for the past 15 years with both private and funded long-term palliative care beds and has built a reputation for exemplary care.
The Hospice Society and Evergreen will open two private-pay Hospice Suites, with the ability to expand to seven. Because the Evergreen Hospice Suites are not funded, the cost must be covered by the patient and their family. To operate the suites at the lowest rate possible, Evergreen is making a considerable donation to our community. The goal is to provide a space for Hospice Palliative Care and is intended to be available when the patient and family need immediate short-term support.
“We have the ability to expand to more suites if needed. Most importantly, we want the community to have the services they need at the end-of-life,” says Karena Marks, Director of Evergreen. “We have fully trained staff, the resources and the space. Together with CRHS, we are finding a way to make it possible.”
The fully equipped Hospice Suites at Evergreen include a fully outfitted kitchen, in-suite laundry, patient bedroom, a secondary sleeping bedroom, a hide-a-bed couch in the living room, and an accessible bathroom with a wheelchair accessible shower. With an eye to comfort, families will enjoy a fireplace, outdoor patio and two TVs, and suites are accessible directly from the parking lot, allowing families and visitors convenience and 24/7 flexibility.
“The fact that Evergreen is willing to help fill the gaps in care for our community is outstanding, and we are very grateful. Now, individuals with a palliative diagnosis will have access to four identified areas of care – Hospice Palliative Care, Respite Care, Symptom Management and Transitional Care. Another gift from Evergreen is allowing family members to stay in the suites at no additional charge,” Daviduck says.
The Campbell River Hospice Society will support the suites with psycho-social care by offering free professional counselling, companionship, respite, vigil support and relaxation therapies. They are also increasing their volunteer support to help keep the cost-per-day as low as possible. Once the suites are operating, CRHS will fundraise to establish a subsidy program for families in need.
“Everyone deserves access to quality hospice palliative care, regardless of their postal code,” says Laurel Gillespie, CEO Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association. “This initiative by Campbell River Hospice Society and Evergreen Seniors Home demonstrates what is possible when a community comes together to ensure that people receiving end-of-life care and their loved ones have access to the support and services they need close to home.”
Community support sought to help provide care
While both partners are committed to keeping costs as low as possible, suites and nursing care are based on a private-pay model. All other services are offered free by the Campbell River Hospice Society.
Through Dec. 31, the Hospice Society’s annual campaign will support the development of the Suites at Evergreen and the increasing demand for our programs and services offered at no cost to our community and area.
“Since the pandemic hit, things have drastically changed for us; we are experiencing a 63 per cent increase in requests for grief support, and 70 per cent of requests are associated with suicide, drug poisoning/overdoses,” Daviduck says. “Our grief support program is not government-funded. To meet these complicated grief cases, we continue to expand our professional counselling support and utilize our volunteers to maximum capacity.”