Hospice hiring PSWs to ensure choice in care for terminal patients

hospiceThere is a shortage of Personal Support Workers (PSWs) in North Hastings and this has been making it more difficult to admit patients to the Residential Hospice House for North Hastings so the local not-for-profit is taking action to ensure one more choice remains for residents in their final stage of life by hiring their own team of PSWs.

Heather Brough is the coordinator for Hospice North Hastings and she says it’s time for Hospice to make this move.

“While the majority of patients supported by Hospice North Hastings choose to die at home, in familiar surroundings, supported by family, friends and highly-trained Hospice volunteers, some need additional support, and this is when admissions are made to the Residential Hospice House for North Hastings,” Brough says. “But, for a patient to be admitted to the House, the South East Local Health Integration Network (SELHIN) must supply PSW overnight support. If they can’t provide the PSWs, we cannot admit patients.”

At the Hospice House, volunteers provide for patients and their families during the day. Historically, the Ministry of Health, the CCAC and now the SELHIN have provided the patients with PSWs for the overnight care.

The PSWs provide the personal care such as bed baths, skin care and continue to monitor patient needs just like they do in the patient’s own home and this enables family and friends to get some much-needed rest and sleep.

Over the past two years, with a noticeable shortage of PSWs in North Hastings, patient care has been impacted because if the SELHIN has not been able to guarantee PSW care, patients could not be admitted to the Hospice House.

Without admission to the Hospice House when it is needed, informal caregivers are left managing more complex care in the home. This often leads to caregiver burnout, caregiver injury or admission to hospital for the patient. This shortage of PSWs has also restricted admission of patients from the hospital, which can cause hospital bed shortages.

“We never want to turn away a patient who wants or needs to come to the House,” Brough says. “In this final stage of life, we want to provide comfort and choice. Sending a patient to emergency is not an option anyone should be ok with. This is why we are going to hire our own PSWs.”

Brough says this is not an easy decision. If Hospice hires their own PSWs, the SELHIN is not able, at this time, to offer any financial support. In the future there is a possibility that funds designated for Hospice care will be provided directly to the Hospice but, at this time this is not an option so this means more fundraising for the local not-for-profit.

“This is daunting,” Brough says. It’s not easy to find more funds to pay for this staffing but we have made a commitment to provide choice and care in our community and so when we see a need – we find a solution. We know how hard it is for patients and caregivers who do not receive enough support so, we will do whatever it takes to ensure that our community is cared for.”

Hospice North Hastings has started a hiring campaign to find, hire and train PSWs to work directly for Hospice North Hastings in the Hospice House. This new team will be working 12-hour overnight shifts and providing specialized care to local residents when they make a decision to move into the House.

“This is not an option that Hospice can provide in the community,” Brough explains. “But if Hospice can provide PSW’s at the Hospice House that should free-up other PSW’s from local agencies to provide more hours in the community, which we hope will provide more support for those in need.”

The new positions are being advertised in the local papers and anyone who is interested can contact Hospice North Hastings for more details.

“We’re looking forward to growing our team and we know that the right people are in our community,” Brough says. “It’s not easy providing palliative care but this is something that no one should be without, no matter where you live in this country.”