DURHAM — Residential hospice services are coming to Durham Region.
On Aug. 31, government officials announced funding for 20 new beds throughout the region, located at three different planned facilities.
“Providing care for families when they’re most vulnerable is a really important thing to do, and it’s about all of us,” said MPP John Fraser, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health and Long Term Care, during an announcement at the site of the future Oak Ridges Hospice in Port Perry.
“Hospice is a really critical piece. It gives people the opportunity to be a husband, a wife, a daughter, a son, to be more than just a caregiver. If there are rest stations that exist between heaven and earth, then hospice is certainly one of those places. Hospice allows people to live well until the very end, because it’s not just about dying; it’s about living.”
The funding includes annual support for five new beds at the planned Oak Ridges Hospice in Port Perry, with construction expected to begin in late fall; five new beds at Clarington Hospice, with construction expected to begin in late 2017; and 10 beds at a new hospice in Whitby, to be built by the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON).
The funding is a major step forward for the region, which currently has no residential hospice services, leaving residents to rely on in-home hospice care or hospital palliative care. Across the entire Central East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) there are currently only three residential hospice bed spaces, located in Warkworth.
“We’re very excited. This is a good step forward for the public,” said Deborah Hammons, CEO of the LHIN.
“To have people end their days in a supportive home environment makes such a big difference. It’s definitely an area we would like to increase our capacity in. Once we have these facilities, there will probably be more bed announcements in the future.”
Dr. Steve Russell, chair of the board for the Oak Ridges Hospice, said work on the facility will begin in the coming months, with demolition of the former school building that sits on the Scugog Street site now. He said he was recently reminded of how important residential hospice services are by a patient that arrived in the hospital with terminal cancer because her family was no longer able to care for her at home.
“She was brought in by ambulance because she couldn’t cope at home, and I went by her room the next day and she had several friends in there — you could hear them laughing from outside — and she said, ‘I still have a lot of living left to do, you know,’” he recalls, noting that she was later evacuated to another hospital after a fire erupted at the Port Perry site. “How I wish we had a residential hospice for her to stay in.”
by Moya Dillon