Managing the last year, months and days before someone dies is something Canadians are rather quiet about. Yet, knowing what to expect when someone has received a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness is invaluable in helping individuals live every day to the fullest. Having caring people provide support for both client and family goes a long way toward easing the sense of being overwhelmed.
The misconceptions that surround hospice care, however, often prevent those who would benefit the most from those services from seeking them out.
Perhaps the real story on what hospice care is might help individuals and their family and friends when they are faced with the diagnosis of a life threatening illness.
Hospice care is a ‘way of caring’ or a philosophy of care.
Evergreen Hospice provides non-medical in-home support services for its clients with the intent of relieving distress and improving the quality of life. Some of Evergreen’s programs, such as the Living Room Day Hospice Program and the Circle of Caring for family caregivers, are offered outside the home, in the community, but the philosophy is the same: offering care that improves the quality of life of the individual and his/her family.
Hospice Care is available from the time of diagnosis.
From the time of diagnosis of a life threatening illness onward through difficult treatments to help maintain the best quality of life for client and their family members. If a family no longer requires the service, Evergreen will withdraw. For many of us, looking after a seriously ill family member is a new role. Evergreen Hospice helps ease that adjustment to this new stage of life.
Hospice can help a family deal with the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness and remain hopeful.
We go through a grieving process that may include anger, denial, blaming and depression. Evergreen can help the individual and their family work through the many emotions that accompany the actual diagnosis. Even when we measure life in months instead of years, there is still a lot of living to do. People may redefine the meaning of hope. They might hope to reconnect with out-of-touch family members or live each day as it comes. Hope might be having the pain diminished or remaining at home rather than going into a hospital. Hospice can provide the emotional and physical support clients and their families need to welcome each new day.
Hospice accepts referrals from anyone in the community.
A doctor’s referral is not required. Friends or family members, neighbours, colleagues or members of a faith community can contact Evergreen Hospice at 416-499-2185 at any time without a referral from a doctor, as long as the client is interested in the services and aware of the referral.
Hospice care works in conjunction with the individual’s medical and nursing team.
Evergreen Hospice works with the patient’s medical team to help the client manage the treatment prescribed. When a cure is not possible, hospice care focuses on comfort-oriented care that neither hastens death nor prolongs life.
Hospice care is for all individuals with any life threatening illness.
Hospice care is not just for people with cancer or only for the elderly. The philosophy of care applies to all people of all ages with all conditions. 35% of Evergreen Hospice’s clients have chronic, non-cancer diagnoses. All age groups are supported by the staff and trained client-volunteers from Evergreen Hospice with more than 55% of the clients under 65.
Hospice provides support for the client AND the family.
Evergreen Hospice works with caregivers to ensure that they receive the support they need to continue caring for their family member. It can be as simple as providing respite care so that caregivers can do daily errands. Sometimes Evergreen doesn’t meet the “patient” as he or she lives in another part of the province or country, and it is the distant family member requesting support.
Hospice can help even when family members are not available to provide care.
Evergreen Hospice works with the Local Health Integrated Network or LHIN (formerly CCAC) to coordinate community resources such as transportation, meals on wheels, friendly visiting, day programs, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, and social work to make home care possible for those hospice clients who live alone or those who do not have someone to provide care. The boundaries for our area of service are Durham Road to the east, Davis Drive to the North, Steeles Avenue to the South and to the west, Hwy 404, except for the area known as Thornhill, which goes as far as Dufferin Street. Client volunteers visit clients anywhere within that area whether they live in a private home alone or with family members, as well as in senior’s residences, nursing homes or a residential hospice like Hill House.
Hospice care often continues when a client is hospitalized.
Evergreen Hospice works with hospital staff to provide support to its clients who have been hospitalized. Evergreen also collaborates on discharge plans for hospice clients, ensuring that they are well supported before they are sent home.
Hospice care is offered at no charge to the client and his/her family.
Although Hospice operating costs are supported through a small grant from the Ministry of Health, 80% of our costs are covered by generous community donations and local fundraising events.