Hospice encourages calls for care

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PSWs Lenna Minnie and Bonnie Jackson are the first people you will connect with when you contact Hospice North Hastings for care.

Since starting their accreditation renewal review with Hospice Palliative Care Ontario, it’s become clear that local residents who are facing serious illness have not been connecting with Hospice North Hastings until much later in their health journey. Because Hospice focuses on improving quality of life for clients, the sooner people connect, the sooner supports can be put in place.

Bonnie Jackson is a PSW and as the office manager at the small, rural, residential Hospice located in Bancroft, she sees on a daily basis how quality of life improves once someone connects with Hospice. From medical equipment to specially trained volunteers who can help in the home, there are lots of ways Hospice can provide holistic support to clients and their families.

“You can just call me directly,” Jackson says. “You don’t have to try to figure this all out on your own.”

And there is a lot to figure out when you’re facing a health crisis.

You can tell when Jackson has received a call for care as she bustles around her small office, putting files together and pulling equipment out of storage. Jackson has been in this community her whole life and she treats everyone like family. And Jackson doesn’t work alone, one of the first calls she makes is to PSW Lenna Minnie.

Minnie has a certificate in End of Life Care and like Jackson, she treats everyone like family. Minnie has incredible warmth and clients and their families often call her an angel.

Between Jackson and Minne, there are years of experience and an incredible capacity for care and compassion. These women know how to advocate for patients, guide families through the tough conversations, assess comfort levels and they will, beyond anything else, ensure that no one faces a health crisis alone.

Both Jackson and Minnie understand that people might want to delay calling Hospice for support because someone with a serious illness doesn’t want to stop fighting a disease or sometimes potential clients are worried that a call to Hospice means they’re giving up; but both Minnie and Jackson say a call to Hospice is not like that.

“When you call us a bit earlier we have time to build a relationship,” Jackson says. “We want to support you, your family and to understand what matters to you. We are here to make sure you never have to feel alone.”

Those feelings are a big part of Hospice care. Minnie explains that often, she and Jackson work to manage the little details of care so that a client can focus on living, on being content and feeling comforted. Their combined years of experience in an ever-changing system of community-based healthcare means they can focus on connecting clients in a way that reduces stress during an already difficult time.

“We answer so many questions when we’re with clients and their families,” Minnie says. “We help people plan and every day we’re providing comfort and compassion.”

Minnie is usually the person who will discuss end of life wishes with a client. If someone wants to stay at home for the duration of their illness, Minnie will work on making that happen. And if a client wants to move into the Residential Hospice House for North Hastings, she’ll coordinate that too.

“It’s about what they want,” Minnie says. “I listen and then we make sure the support is in place.”

Minnie says she loves what she does and her passion for providing comfort care that improves quality of life, for as long as someone has, is what inspires her. She says it’s an honour to do what she does.

“Often, we’re caring for people we’ve known our whole lives,” Minnie says. “We connect on such a deep level and there are hugs along the way; we hold hands, we share tears.”

Both Jackson and Minnie, along with Hospice coordinator Heather Brough, are encouraging people to connect with Hospice directly so that services can be provided earlier and earlier.

“Call us, or drop by the office for a visit,” Jackson says. “Even if you don’t need us today, let’s have everything ready for when you do.”

Hospice North Hastings is a non-profit community based organization committed to providing support for terminally ill persons or those with life threatening illnesses, and their families. Hospice services are provided free of charge, by professionals and specially trained volunteers. Services are provided in a client’s home or at the Residential Hospice House for North Hastings based on the wishes of the client.

Anyone in need of care can contact Hospice North Hastings directly by visiting the Hospice Office at 27 Bridge Street East in Bancroft from 9am to 3pm weekdays or by calling 613.332.8014.