Palliative Care Hospice Week seeks to dispel myths

Bulkley Valley Hospice Society focussed on quality of life

Palliative care is an area of health care that gets relatively little attention, but end-of-life issues are a growing topic and something every person and family must deal with at some point.

“I like where it is said that it’s not so much about dying but about helping people live until they take their final breath,” said Denise Kalina, hospice coordinator for the Bulkley Valley Hospice Society (BVHS).

BVHS is a not-for-profit organization of 45 volunteers and seven paid staff, “who also volunteer much of their time serving clients or participating in other hospice work like fundraising, etc.,” Kalina said.

The organization runs a number of programs aimed at improving the quality of life for patients, and their families, who are dealing with terminal illness.

The palliative program includes providing motional and physical support, companionship and respite for families; helping people find the resources and health care they need; loans of medical equipment for home use; and providing one-on-one help with advance care planning (ACP), as well as conducting ACP workshops for groups.

The bereavement program offers individual and group grief support in a variety of ways. Currently their is a Grief Group Session underway. There is also a grief drop-in available Tuesdays at the courthouse from 2:30 to 4:30.

BVHS also conducts an annual Ceremony of Remembering at Christmas for people who have lost loved ones.

Volunteers receive a 30-hour training program, undergo screening, an interview and criminal record check and are subject to a confidentiality agreement.

This week is National Hospice Palliative Care Week and the theme is “Busting the Myths on Hospice Palliative Care.”

BVHS will be at the Bulkley Valley District Hospital all week with information the theme.

Its annual general meeting is scheduled for June 3, at The Meadows.

Of course, palliative care also encompasses a broad spectrum of health care professionals involving doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, volunteers, care aides, physiotherapists, occupation therapists, respiratory therapists, nutritionists, spiritual care providers, and counsellors.

Northern Health provides subsidized hospice beds at the Bulkley Lodge and supports the Rotary Hospice House in Prince George, which provides hospice care in a home-like setting with an extensive garden and patio area.

Ultimately Kalina believes Dame Cicely Saunders, the nurse, physician, social worker and writer who had a leading role in the founding of the hospice movement, summed it up best with the quote: “You matter because you are, and you matter until the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.”

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