Terrace Hospice gives back

IT’S HOSPICE month and the local branch wants to give back to the community and provide information about hospice that people may not know.

IT’S HOSPICE month and the local branch wants to give back to the community and provide information about hospice that people may not know.

As the population ages, and as more people live longer with chronic illnesses, the need for hospice services is increasing, says Penny Dobbin, Terrace Hospice Society coordinator.

More resources are needed in the north; for example, in the province, there are slightly more than 200 hospice/palliative care beds, but in the northwest, including Prince Rupert, Kitimat, the Bulkley Valley and here, there are only six.

And while people think hospice doesn’t apply to them as they’re not elderly or terminally ill, they’re still affected by the lack of hospice resources.

From her experience working as a social worker in a hospital in Prince George, Dobbin would see the palliative/hospice beds filled so the people who were waiting for a bed there, and couldn’t go home and take care of themselves, would be put in the hospital, which took up beds from other patients.

The result: gridlock in emergency with people getting medical help but not admitted to hospital because there weren’t any beds for them, she said.

People who are on a waiting list for a bed in Terraceview, which can take six months to one year, can’t go home so they end up in a bed in the hospital here, she says.

Another thing is that if people are registered for palliative care, they can get some medications, home care and some equipment for free, taken care of through  hospice.

People need to get registered on the list for care earlier, instead of in the last month or weeks when they’re dying.

Hospice can see people as soon as they’re diagnosed with a chronic illness as talking to hospice doesn’t have to mean the person is dying. but rather they’re prepared, and have access to resources, just in case.

“We’re a death denying society,” said Dobbin about what a speaker said at a hospice conference.

People are getting away from traditional funerals but people should maintain that tradition and rituals associated with grieving.

That doesn’t mean the person’s last wishes to not have a funeral shouldn’t be honoured; but other traditions, like wakes, do help loved ones with grieving.

And it’s important to let people grieve in their own way and in their own time.

Often children who lose a parent will tell the remaining parent to stop grieving once it‘s six months or so later.

However, it’s not that easy, especially when people have been married for 20 or 30 years or more and the loss of a spouse, who’s been there every day and night for that long is like losing a body part. It can take a long time to heal from the loss.

Terrace Hospice Society holds its thank-you informational tea this weekend and Hike for Hospice is May 11. For more details, see the Community Calendar on page 12.