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North Shore Hospice: one year later
Since opening its doors in November 2010, the North Shore Hospice has cared for more than 150 patients. That’s made a big difference in the lives of terminally ill patients — and their families.
The 15-bed hospice, located at 319 East 14th St. in North Vancouver, provides specialized care needed for those at the end of their lives and for whom a cure is no longer an option. Care focuses on providing physical, emotional and spiritual support for the person who is dying — and for their family — so that they can get the most life from their final days.
Comfort measures and pain control take the place of stressful and invasive treatments meant to prolong life.
The North Shore Hospice was specifically designed to meet the needs of palliative care patients.
The light-filled hospice has comfortable furniture grouped around a marble fireplace, original art on the walls, and the building is surrounded by a lush garden. All patient rooms are equipped with a pull-out double sleeper and are large enough to host a gathering of up to 10 visitors.
A full range of professionals work together to provide care at the hospice.
In addition to the medical and nursing staff, the team includes, a social worker, a chaplain, pharmacist, a music therapist and a dedicated group of volunteers. The chef is an important member of the hospice staff. He prepares tasty nutritious meals which have, in some instances, helped patients gain enough strength so that they were able to return to their own home. Family and friends can purchase meals at the hospice for a very modest price.
Dag Furst has only positive things to say about the care his father received at North Shore Hospice. “I knew he was getting such good care,” he says.
He says the hospice staff worked as a team to provide his father’s care and they also supported the family as a whole. They kept him up to date about his father’s condition and maintained a watchful eye on the family. “I felt the staff really made sure they looked after me,” says Furst.
Furst believes his father may have preferred to stay at home until the very end of his life, but the thought of providing all the needed care was overwhelming. Those feelings are common among caregivers.
North Shore Hospice program manager Jane Webley says she can almost visibly see the weight come off the shoulders of family members when they first walk into the hospice.
Webley acknowledges that the hospice may not be home, but she believes it’s the nearest thing they can offer.
According to Webley, the aim is to allow family members to step away from the caregiving role and return to the role of son, wife, or close friend. Family members sometimes wish to continue providing some of the hands-on care, whether it’s a daily shave or helping their loved one with meals. The difference is that they can carry out those tasks because they want to, not because they have to.
Webley would like to get the word out that the hospice is there for the greater community. It operates a 12-week Palliative Care Day Program for those with a terminal illness who are living at home.
Participants in the day program have access to all the amenities at the hospice, whether it’s hydrotherapy, a massage or some time with the counsellor or chaplain.
The hospice operates a similar program for those caring for a friend or relative. Those attending the Caregiver Day Program can enjoy a little pampering and get a change to meet and socialize with others in the program. It’s a chance to enjoy a little pampering and take a break from what can be a heavy load.
Most importantly, the hospice provides care for its patients at the end of their lives, allowing them to make the most of their final days, to live pain free, and to focus on relationships.
—Josie Padro, North Shore Community Resources Society
Supporting Caregivers Across the Lifespan Project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program. The opinions in this article are those of the author.