Hospice more than just a building, society says
A spokesperson for the Olds & District Hospice Society (O & DHS) said there needs to be a “paradigm shift in thinking about health care.”
“This is especially true in palliative care,” said Charlene Schramm, secretary for the society. “We are a ‘facility’ society and that is not realistic or possibly the best choice.”
Schramm added that the society’s initial dream several years ago was to build a four- or five-bed, free-standing residential hospice within the community. “We were not particularly daunted by the potential capital cost of between $3 million and $6 million to build our dream,” she said. “We were however, brought up short by the reality of insurance and operational costs.”
The clincher, she noted, was that the ‘dream’ facility would serve only those people in the very end stages of their palliative journey.
“There is a huge need for support well before someone is ready for a hospice room,” Schramm added. “We came to realize that ‘hospice’ is bigger than a building. Simply building and then trying to maintain a facility is not enough and possibly not financially feasible.”
She explained that this doesn’t mean that the society has “scrapped” the idea of having a hospice facility.
“It does, however mean that what is needed is bigger and in many ways, simpler than a building,” she said. “As well, there are people in our community who need support right now. We didn’t want to wait for the building when we knew there are things we could do right now.”
She noted that there were already many ‘physical care’ programs in place.
“The areas that consistently came up as lacking were in psychosocial support, consistent presence of support outside of family members, navigation of an increasingly regionalized health system, education, communication and bereavement support.”
Schramm explained that the current model of care incorporates five components.
“We’re a point of contact and we can meet families in our office or in their homes,” she said.
The second component is providing an information base. “Navigating through the health-care system can be exhausting,” she said. “We can help with contacting needed support, finding information, etc.”
The O & DHS also offers trained volunteers to connect to existing services, provide respite care, provide support in-home or facility, assist with transportation, run errands, provide companionship, etc.
“We also provide bereavement support,” she said. “We journey with individuals, their families and friends and offer support wherever they need it.”
The O & DHS has a working board of 10 volunteers. There are seven trained palliative care volunteers. “Since December 2011, we have worked with 15 families to date,” Schramm said.
The O & DHS was given official societal status in January 2012 and is now looking for partnerships with individuals and health-care providers in the communities of Olds, Didsbury and Sundre.