Nelson’s Hike for Hospice sheds light on important end of life care

A Hike for Hospice is scheduled to take place on Sunday with all the funds benefiting the Nelson District Hospice Society.

A Hike for Hospice is scheduled to take place on Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon , with all the funds benefiting the Nelson District Hospice Society.

You may wonder: What is hospice?”

I asked myself that question after my husband died almost eight years ago. I was given the gift of referral by his palliative care nurse and the hospice caregiver came to my home to sit with me as he passed during the night.

However, I understand much more now because I became a hospice caregiver myself, after my training this past spring. And it’s much different from the Grim Reaper image — a fearful view held by many folks. Hospice is about care — listening and being with people.

I also discovered that hospice care is multifaceted. Did you know that for over 28 years the NDHS has been providing basic services through trained volunteers? This group brings comfort and care to individuals with life limiting illnesses, and the volunteer caregivers also share their skills with the hospice client’s family members. Hospice care is provided in homes, or in local acute care settings, such as our hospital, and in residential care facilities at Mountain Lakes or Jubilee Manor.

Another facet of NDHS is the provision of bereavement services through one-on-one sessions and ongoing Grief Support Groups for family members.

Training for volunteers is essential and all of these basic programs are only 75 per cent funded by the Interior Health authority. The expansion of Hospice Care Services in the Nelson district is partially achieved by raising community awareness (i.e. Hike for Hospice), and more community outreach to local health care professionals (doctors, home care nurses etc.) all to gain better understanding and more referrals for hospice care.

The Kalein Hospice Centre is home for two key administrators — Jane DiGiacomo, who became the new executive director for NDHS in January and, in July, Cindy Fairs was named the first executive director for the hospice centre of Kalein. With the centre functioning as both a volunteer training and administrative centre, both organizations bring strong collaboration in both education and fundraising programs; i.e. Kalein is a sponsor for the NDHS Hike for Hospice this month and will provide support in November for a bereavement services course in Grief Support for volunteers.

As DiGiacomo explains “It’s not just a place — it’s a philosophy of care.                    Hospice care can provide the spiritual/emotional support that changes a person’s physical and mental health… when hospice enters, the family can stand back and see it, relieving the fear and grief… it allows a different experience of death.”

Please consider joining the us on Sunday, September 22 and Hike for Hospice because now I know it’s better to learn about what hospice can do for you and your family, rather than leaving it until the last moment.

Register online at nelsonhospicehikeforhospice.eventbrite.ca or all 250-352-2337 for more information.