As a physician, and a proud Canadian, I’m grateful to live in a country where everyone has access to health-care services. Until recently, however, one aspect of our system has been somewhat overlooked — residential hospice care. In the words of one woman with a palliative diagnosis as she arrived at a hospice centre surrounded by family, “I still have a lot of living to do.” Living, not dying.
Despite the benefits of residential hospice care, for residents and their family members, Durham Region remains one of the only comparable regions in the province without this essential resource. The good news is that governments around the world are now recognizing the value of hospice care centres with the province recently announcing support for 20 residential hospice beds in Durham Region.
Recently, Durham Region Hospice, a partnership between Durham Hospice and VON Durham Community Corporation, launched Comfort, Care, Compassion, a capital campaign to raise $15 million toward the construction of residential hospice centres in Clarington and Whitby. The campaign is running in tandem with the Building for Compassionate Care capital campaign in support of Oak Ridges Hospice in Port Perry.
Focused on living by empowering individuals with a palliative diagnosis to choose how they navigate their final journey while helping their families cope with and prepare for their final stages of life, residential hospice provides care — at no cost to residents or their family members — in a supportive, flexible and homelike environment. An interdisciplinary team of health-care professionals provide pain and symptom management, and staff and community volunteers offer programs and services to ensure comfort, care and compassion for all residents.
Once constructed, each hospice will offer private rooms, free parking, unrestricted visiting hours and the ability to live freely, including flexible meals based on each resident’s choice, living with pets, bathing at leisure, going outside as desired and a wide range of non-medical service and program options.
Dr. Edward Osborne is a physician with Lakeridge Health and the regional palliative care lead for the Central East Regional Cancer Program and the Central East Local Health Integration Network.