National Hospice Palliative Care Week is May 4-10
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Busting Myths about Hospice and Palliative Care

This theme of National Hospice Palliative Care Week, May 4-10 is Busting The Myths. We thought we’d take advantage of this week of awareness to bust a few myths about palliative care in the Interlake-Eastern RHA.


Myth: Palliative care only takes place in the hospital.

We do not work within four walls; the care we deliver takes place across all care settings and it’s based on the philosophy of increasing quality of life. That happens no matter where the client is or who their care provider is. Nurse specialists in palliative care stay connected with all palliative clients no matter where they may be. They continue to visit and work as a team alongside staff in hospitals or long term care facilities or with nurses providing support to people at home. Together, they ensure the best possible care for the client while managing symptoms and pain. 


Myth: Receiving palliative care means you are dying.

Palliative care is about living! We focus on comfort and quality of life…living the best that you can in the time that you have surrounded by those who mean the most to you in the care setting you prefer.


Interlake-Eastern RHA’s regional palliative care program has two nurse specialists, two psycho/social specialists, one regional volunteer coordinator/community liaison, a regional manager and a director. Nurse specialists receive all referrals to the program. Referrals come from doctors, cancer care professionals, acute care staff or long term care staff. The nurses make contact with the physician or oncologist and gather the information they need. Next they speak with the client who has been referred. They introduce themselves, explain the program, identify what palliative care is and what it isn’t and they identify what is available in the way of palliative care services and home care services. They also ensure the client’s pain and symptoms are well managed. They then set up their next home visit or return to a client if they are in hospital or a long term care facility.


Two psychosocial specialists with the palliative care program support the client and their families or caregivers throughout illness and continue with bereavement support well after death. Group grief counseling is also the responsibility of the two psychosocial specialists and they are working closely together to bring this support to communities in the region.


Myth: Palliative care is only for seniors.

Age is not a factor when it comes to palliative care. Clients, families and caregivers do not fit into any particular age group and we need to ensure that family members of all ages are supported and prepared for end of life. Since 2004, we’ve hosted Camp Stepping Stones every year. This weekend camp is for children aged seven to 17 who have recently experienced the death of someone close to them. Through camp, children share their grief and they learn they are not alone in what they are experiencing.


Myth: Palliative care doesn’t need your support.

The Regional Health Authority invests approximately $5 million annually to ensure that people in the region have access to palliative care services. The palliative care program functions within the home care program and utilizes nurses, home care attendants and occupational therapists and provides respite. The support we benefit from is volunteers who spend time as bedside visitors and those who help us with program administration. If you are interested in volunteering, please call Sabrena Reed at 204-642-4597.


Funds donated to palliative care are used for the extras that help people out during times that are difficult. We’ve used donations to purchase education materials, help us host Camp Stepping Stones and help us purchase specialized equipment like mattresses that are more comfortable for clients who remain in bed most of the day. Interlake-Eastern’s regional palliative care team looks forward to building relationships with community partners that will benefit people and families who require palliative care.


Questions regarding the program are welcome and can be directed to regional manager of palliative care, Tammie-Lee Rogowski 204-467-3361. 

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