Two decades of sunshine caring

The Westerly News In 2014, Pacific Rim Hospice Society celebrates two decades of service to the communities of the West Coast. Over 20 years ago, after the deaths of a number of young mothers in Tofino and Ucluelet, a group of people committed themselves to forming a Hospice society.

“Some of these people who are still a part of our communities are Wendy Amrhein, Cathy White, Flo Henry, Vi Mundy and Bill Davies. What started as compassionate determination has ended up making an incredible difference in the lives of so many families,” said PRHS executive director Kim Hoag.

The hard work that began even before the incorporation in 1994 has continued and resulted in what we believe is healthier and stronger communities, she said.

“We would like to say thank you to these individuals, and other residents involved in the early years, like Sal Frank, Debbie Webb, Elaine Killins, Priscilla Lockwood, Lois Steven, Anne Francis, Maureen Wells, Maureen Callaway, Phyllis Banks and Donna Turner. Hospice would not have happened on the West Coast without you. We would like to think the level of empathy and understanding of end-of-life and grief has risen in our communities in the last 20 years because of Hospice and its founding fathers and mothers,” Hoag said.

In two decades Hospice has trained 71 volunteers who together contributed in excess of 27,000 hours with over 2600 individuals benefiting. A monetary for those volunteer hours would be over $550,000, Hoag said.

“Many, many more people have benefited from education through Hospice. The impact on our communities is priceless.”

Hospice has 25 volunteers working with clients and another nine who serve on the board.

“As we celebrate 20 years of caring, we thank each and every one of you who has in one way or another contributed to the success

of the Pacific Rim Hospice Society.

We couldn’t have done it without you.”

Jeanette O’Connor is grateful for hospice help during and after end of life for her husband Bob.

“The loss of my husband has been and continues to be so very difficult. With the help of ‘my person’ from Hospice I was able to focus on Bob, rather than on his impending death in that month we had,” she said.

“And my person was invaluable in helping me survive that first year after Bob’s death. She supported me; she let me know that whatever I was feeling was normal, that I would be okay. And she was never uncomfortable when I talked about Bob or when I cried, or when I raged, or when I was silent. She let me know I wasn’t alone,” O’Connor recalled.

Hospice is starting a grief support group at the end of October that will run through to the beginning of December, and O’Connor will be there.

“Going through the grieving process is not easy and I think it’ll be helpful to be part of a group who are also dealing with loss,” she said.

By the Numbers Hospice has had a 65% increase in clients in just the last 3 years.

“The demand for PRHS palliative, debilitating illness and companioning support services will increase as our population ages and the baby boomers become the silver tsunami,” said Hoag.

There are 20 other client-based volunteers. An average of 9 volunteers have a client at any given time.

Basic Volunteer training for new volunteers takes place every 2-3 years. PRHS volunteers and staff support clients one on one who are facing the end of life, living with debilitating illness or injury and who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

Support sessions take place in hospital, in client’s homes, in the hospice office or offices at Cha-Chum-Hii-Yup (Holistic Centre in Ahousaht) and Westcoast Community Resources Society. In the last 3 years 66 % of clients sought help from Hospice for grief support, 11% for palliative or end of life support and 23% for companioning, debilitating illness

or caregiver support.

Two hospice volunteers Barb Campbell and Darlene Choquette supported Arlene McGinnis’s elderly mother.

The visits were wonderful for her mum, McGinnis said.

“They would take turns, one would come one week, one another week. They would visit a couple hours.

It gave her a real lift to have someone different coming in. it was important to her,” she said.

The visitors would sit and reminisce with her, listening to memories of the past and looking at beloved pictures.

“It was really rewarding,” McGinnis said.

Resources, assistance Resources and assistance with advanced care planning is available.

A seven week grief group program is available.

PRHS has a same library in the Westcoast Community Resources offices and a larger library in the Hospice office. Take away pamphlets and books to borrow are available on a wide variety of hospice related subjects.

Public workshops take place several times a year.

Walk-in support is available in the office Mon-Fri 9:30-4:30; Mon-Thurs during the Summer.

Celebrate-a-life trees and ceremony occur annually for people missing a loved one during the holidays The source of referrals most often was from clients themselves, their family and friends hospital nurses and physicians, Mental Health, Nuu-chah-nulth nursing and mental health, Homecare nurse and Victims Assistance.

People can call hospice, walk in the office or email – but people cannot be referred without their permission.

Ucluelet resident Erin Irwin did

the Companioning Training so is a Hospice volunteer. She has also helped out with membership drive, Ukee Days and has attended Hospice team building events and has taken advantage of advanced training when it comes up.

“Erin is enthusiastic and is familiar with Nuu-chal-nulth culture. She is a good example of someone who companions people who are not dying,” said Hoag.

Irwin said companioning is important because it’s no fun to walk alone in times of need.

“We are all different in this world (and much alike too), some of us expressive, some of us hold onto our grief,” she said.

“Companioning gives opportunity to express, belong and debrief and gives both the opportunity to laugh and share.”

She has cites the Huey Lewis The News hit, “Power of Love” for her inspiration.

“Helping/giving/sharing is the rent we pay for a room here on earth,” Irwin said.

There are nine directors on the Board (most members shown in image below). Vera Webb is the Chair/Treasurer, Charmaine Lam is Secretary, Dennis Kay, George Walkem, Gloria Frank, Janine Croxall, Laura Distaso, Roger Poblete and Anita Tavera are Directors at Large. Four of the directors also visit clients.

For additional information online, go to www.pacificrimhospice. ca