Hospice Society counsellor Michael Wilson gives guidance to Carol Ann Dwyer

Campbell River Hospice Society in search of a new home

For the past 27 years, Hospice has been leasing office space but has had a long desired dream of owning its own home

The Campbell River Hospice Society is looking to take one giant leap forward after being told it must vacate its current office.

“For the past 27 years, Hospice has been leasing office space but has had a long desired dream of owning our own home – a place where we could continue to grow and increase our much-needed programs for our community,” said Julie Collis, director of operations for the Hospice Society.

A lack of funding has made it difficult to turn that dream into reality but recently the Campbell River and District Association for Community Living gave Hospice the push it needs.

The Association for Community Living, which owns the building space the Hospice is currently leasing next to the curling club, needs its space back and has given the society until October 31, 2013 to find a new home.

The Hospice Society, which provides end-of-life services free of charge to those who are dying or grieving the loss of a loved one, is hoping to raise $500,000 – a huge undertaking for a non-profit that struggles just to make ends meet.

The society receives just three per cent of its operating budget from the Vancouver Island Health Authority, which means 97 per cent of the funding needed to operate its programs comes from community fundraisers such as Angel Rock, Celebrate A Life, and its annual summertime raffle.

Collis said with the health authority asking Island hospices to increase programming – something Campbell River’s can’t do in its current space – this is the perfect time to look for a new facility.

Iona Wharton, director of programs and services with Hospice, said the Hospice Society wants to be “prudent” with its finances and is looking to purchase an already existing facility rather than construct a brand new building. Both Wharton and Collis agree it would be nice to secure a house rather than a building to make it more “homey” for clients and possibly open the door for beds down the road.

In the near future the plan is to expand the Hospice to include a day program.

“We’ve got a few ideas up our sleeve but the main one is an adult hospice day program for palliative clients,” Wharton said. “It would benefit them in that they would be getting out with other people who are also palliative (those who are nearing end of life), so they can support each other and it would give their care givers a break as well. It’s a program that fits nicely with what we are already providing and we feel is very necessary.”

The Hospice would also like to have the space to work collaboratively with local physicians, social workers, nurses, and care workers who are all a part of the city’s palliative care team.

Wharton noted that having more space would also provide for more volunteer opportunities with Hospice.

“We know if we grow our programs there will be more people excited to help us out,” Wharton said. “Moving opens up the playing field for volunteers because there would be more opportunities for what they have to give.”

But with the Hospice only receiving $5,700 a year or $0.12 per person per capita from the Vancouver Island Health Authority, the Hospice Society is reliant on the community to make expansion possible.

“We have to say the community is fabulous for what they do for all the non-profits in town,” Wharton said.

“We’re looking for someone who would like to partner on this with us. It’s something that will benefit the whole community, when it comes to end of life care.”

Anyone interested in donating to the Hospice Society and helping to make its dream home a reality can contact the Hospice Society through it website at, www.crhospice.org or call the Hospice office at 250-286-1121.

Information on Campbell River Hospice’s current programs can also be found on the website.