April has been a busy month here at the hospice with both volunteer and staff training happening. We are committed to ensuring that Jessica’s House is equipped to providing essential services to our residents and families.
At Jessica’s House we not only want to teach our volunteers about Palliative Care but also to reach out to members of the community. Did you know that April 16th was Advance Care Planning Day? This is the day to reflect on your wishes and values for end-of-life care and to start having those hard conversations so that your family and friends know what your wishes are when you can no longer make them. A substitute decision maker is someone whom you trust to carry on these wishes. To learn more about advance care planning and choosing a substitute decision maker please go to www.advancecareplanning.ca.
Mother’s Day can be a very difficult time of the year especially when you have experienced death our mother. As our mother, for the most part, is the first contact that we make in our lives and whether we are a child, adult or anywhere in between losing a mother is very difficult. We need to give ourselves perimssion to feel what can be very intense emotions during this time of loss and remembrance. Honouring our mother’s by talking about them, continuing traditions or starting new Mother’s Day Traditions can be helpful. It is human nature to try to avoid sadness, but finding ways to create meaning can be very validating and comforting to those who are struggling with loss.
As the saying goes, April showers bring May flowers! This is our first spring season with our backyard gardens and they are in full bloom, adding a lovely backdrop from the resident’s rooms. The water feature is trickling and adding to the very peaceful ambiance for our residents and their families.
As we approach June and the first anniversary of being open, we have taken a moment to reflect back on the families that have been with us. It is a special job that we do to be a part of the end of someone’s life, offering compassionate support to both our residents and their families and friends. We have shared some tears and lots of laughs with those who have been a part of the first year at Jessica’s House. We will acknowledge these families with our first memorial garden party in June. This is an opportunity for these families to come back and reconnect with our staff and volunteers. Did you know that Jessica’s House has supported 35 families during the first year. Through the ongoing support from the community we continue to completely self funded without financial support from the government. Your support and kindness means more than we could every say!
Happy Anniversary to US! This past week has been time of reflection here at Jessica’s House thinking about this past year since we first opened our doors. We welcomed families and friends that we have supported this year back to the hospice for our first Memorial Garden Party. It is hard to find words to say thank you for allowing us to be part of this moment in your families lives. We continue to care for your loved ones and to offer a comforting place and peace and solitude during the last days.
Our gardens are a lovely feature to both our front and back yards. Our families and residents have really enjoyed watching the plants grow this spring. If you have a green thumb and are interested in becoming a part of our gardening crew please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People inquiring about the heavy equipment that has been on the property south of Jessica’s House. No, we are not expanding, but rather work had begun on a development that will be behind the hospice, crews are working hard to get the services and land prepared.
Did you know that the earlier that people integrate palliative care into their lives when suffering from a life limiting disease the better the outcome for both patients and the health care system? A study done in 2016 by the Canadian Institute for Health Information showed that most people who receive palliative care only do so in the last month of their life, but those that receive it earlier have fewer emergency rooms visits and receive less aggressive treatments at their end-of-life. This compounded by the fact that few health care providers specialize or practice in palliative care. Jessica’s House is striving to be an active community partner with not only our local hospital and community nursing teams but those in our surrounding communities such as London, Lucan, Parkhill and Strathroy. It is our goal to ensure that residential hospice is a viable option for anyone who is facing end-of-life.
In the past people died suddenly by accidents or heart attacks; as people live longer where is also an increased incidences of chronic illness, and by having palliative care involved it enhances their quality of life. The 2017 legislation highlighted “the need to improve access to home and community-based services as well as residential hospices”. By introducing a palliative care approach to people living with chronic life limiting diseases it enables them to have the choice of where they would like to spend the last days of their lives.
The end of August tends to come with a sense of sadness as we realize summer is coming to an end and everyone is getting back into routine as brings with is a reboot back to reality. It has been a very busy month at Jessica’s House and as always we thank everyone who has taken the time to be involved and or support us in so many ways.
Did you know that there are many myths associated with end-of-life? One such myth is that a person is dying and they do not feel the urge to eat that they are in fact starving to death. In actual fact our bodies are very resourceful and as they are reaching end-of-life they do not require the calories. As a person reaches the last few days of their life, they find the effort of eating and drinking takes far too much energy and the feelings of hunger and thirst aren’t there as they use to be. We associate eating with socialization and our overall sense of wellbeing. Family and friends find this very hard to see and do not always understand why their loved one does not want to eat or drink but his is a very normal part of the dying process. If a person is conscious and they wish to eat or drink, we can encourage small meals, ice chips or sips of fluid. It is important not to force people to eat when they are nearing end-of-life as it can actually cause the person to have discomfort. Whatever choices people make at end-of-life hospice palliative care professional are there to support these choices and to provide the best possible care.
Did you know that October 12th is World Hospice Palliative Care day? World Palliative Care day is a day to celebrate and support Hospice and Palliative care around the world. The goal of this day is to raise awareness of the needs of people living with life-limiting disease and to share the vision to increase the availability of hospice and palliative care. Another important goal of hospice palliative care around the world is to “improve quality of life and relieve suffering”. The first Hospice Palliative care unity in Canada was in 1974 in Winnipeg’s Saint Boniface General Hospital and secondly within weeks in the Montreal Royal Victoria Hospital. Palliative care may be seen differently throughout the different countries of the world depending on cultural, religious or spiritual beliefs. Whether we are treating people in Zimbabwe with HIV/AIDS at the Island Hospice that was developed in 1979 to the people of Russia having their first hospice built in 1990 in a little town close to St. Petersburg for people suffering from cancer. Most hospice were developed with the same; concepts that Dame Cicely of the United Kingdom developed in 1960’s. Dame Cicely Saunders introduced effective pain management and insisted that people die needed dignity, compassion and respect. At Jessica’s House we strive to meet these same expectations to allow a person to die in their place of choice in the most dignified and compassionate way possible. Thank you to our community to support Jessica’s House so that we can continue to provide this care.
We get asked quite often and find ourselves having conversations daily with people who are trying to piece together with heir end-of-life journeys will look like. It is an emotional and stressful time for the individual and their families. At Jessica’s House it is our goal to help alleviate some of the worries and concerns and help to build a plan for end-of-life care.
Palliative care is a term that is used to indicate that the progression of the disease is extensive and the reality of death is getting closer. A decision to begin palliative care takes in many factors; having a discussion with your health care team who can offer information about options and supports within the community. An important aspect of that conversation has to include looking at the options that are available for treatment and what the wishes are for the person who has been diagnosed, this is often when it is important to consider the quality vs quantity of life. Discussion surrounding end-of-life choices should be approached with your family and health care team in order to ensure that your voice is heard and your wishes are clear. These are very hard discussions and decisions to be make, but having them in place enables the people closest to you the piece of mind that they know what is important to you.
Palliative care can be provided in the home, hospital, long term care or hospice. Jessica’s House is an option for residents at the end-of-life. A referral needs to be made by a health care provider; the referral form can be downloaded from www.southwesthealthline.ca. Jessica’s House is staffed 24 hours a day with access to our Medical Director if your own family physician isn’t able to follow your care though to end-of-life. There is no cost to stay at Jessica’s House and a referral can be received at any point in your palliative care journey. We recognize that this can be a very frightening time, but we have noticed that these fears can be reduced when people come for a tour of the facility prior to admission. If you or your loved one might be considering hospice and would like a tour of Jessica’s House please do not hesitate to call.
We get asked quite often and fine ourselves having conversations daily with people about what to expect when you come to Jessica’s House. It is an overwhelming decision to make. Recognizing that death is near but also wanting to continue to live. I have by asked, “How do you live with death around you”? My reply is that I am surrounding myself with people whom are living and the time will come when they die but this is a moment in time. Residential hospice is a place for family and friends to be to be together to reminisce and talk about memories of the present. Our hope at Jessica’s House is that family and friends are able to have a experience in which they remember the joys of their loved one that has died.
Coming to Residential Hospice is a choice and a difficult one. We are no longer treating or curing disease but instead providing relief of signs and symptoms that your body and mind are having. A residential hospice is a home-like environment where adults and children with life-threatening illnesses receive end-of-life services. Hospice care begins after treatment of the disease is stopped and when it is clear that the person is not going to survive the illness.
Did you know that November 19th is National Bereavement Day in Canada? The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association’s theme for this year is “Coping with grief, together through living and grieving”. According to the palliative care association we are so focused on prolonging life that we do not think about what happens end of our journey. Please give yourself time to grieve, to remember and to heal. We all handle grief in different way and please tell your stories and let others tell their stories.
As the holiday season is upon us and the year is winding down we find ourselves taking stock of all those who have come through our doors this year, families of all sizes, big and small, and neighbours, community partners and members of our surrounding communities. It has been our privilege to have been a part of your story and we thank you for the opportunity to care for your families.
We have a lot acknowledge and to be proud of this year, beginning with our volunteers! This is never a shortage of compassionate support when they are in the building or working outside, there is always lot of conversations and laughter. They bring brightness to what are sometimes dark days for our residents. There is an amazing group of community members who sit on both our Jessica’s House Operating Committee and the South Huron Hospital Foundation that help to ensure that the hospice is running as smoothly as it can, including everything from maintenance if the building to raising those much needed dollars to allow us to continue offering the very best in end-of-life support. Saint Elizabeth is our community partner providing nursing and PSW support to the residents. Thank you for all you do to provide exceptional nursing care. As they say, it takes a village, and are so lucky to have the support of so many people.
We found have found with families who are worried about what coming to hospice might be like; having a tour has certainly helped to reduce the anxiety. If you are considering your end-of-life plans and would lit to come for a visit please don’t hesitate to call Tracy Snell at 519-235-0941 to set up an appointment for a tour.