Hospice in Kamloops making end of life comfortable

By Tanya Cronin
May 5, 2016 - 5:43pm

KAMLOOPS — It's a place that provides physical, mental, and emotional support. Hospice is a comfortable setting for those in the last stages of life. 

Marjorie Willoughby Snowden Memorial Hospice in Kamloops helps terminally ill patients live until they die, and focuses a big part of their efforts supporting families, who often times take on the added burden of being their loved one's caregiver. 

This is National Hospice Palliative Care Week, a time to educate people on what hospice care is really about. It all comes down to making the end of life journey, a little easier.

When they walk in, her eyes light up.

Annie Burkhardt's nurses make her smile and laugh, it's an uplifting moment for someone facing a terminal illness.

"They treat me so nicely, they're so friendly and they're so kind, I don't have to wait for any length of time when I need help right away, it's just wonderful, I enjoy it here," Annie Burkhardt, Hopsice Patient.

Since the end of February, Annie has called Marjorie Willoughby Snowden Memorial Hospice in Kamloops, home. Light pours in her windows, it's a place of comfort, where she can live out her dying days. 

"Oh I just love it, it's the most wonderful place I've ever been and I worked in nursing homes, there's nothing to compare to this, it's a beautiful place."

There are no harsh overhead lights, no machines, or hospital alarms. There is compassion, staff and volunteers build friendships with residents, they celebrate birthdays and special occasions, just like home.

"We very much focus on a holistic type of care that addresses not only the physical pain, but the existential and emotional pain that comes with somebody facing a terminal illness and the end of their life," says Kristin Pierobon, Hospice Clinical Care Supervisor.

Kristin Pierobon is a Registered Nurse at hospice. Some of the time, a patient's suffering is a fear of death, or loss of hope, she helps them find meaning in life, and provides much more than traditional health care.  

"This is real nursing to me, and this is being able to be present and provide the time it takes to really make a difference, and that's what this is to me and it's just a whole different type of nursing." 

There are no visiting hours, friends and family can come and go 24 hours a day. Hospice care is as much about families as it is patients, helping everyone navigate through a chapter of unknowns.

"People can be out on the balcony, they can enjoy family around in their room, families can stay overnight, we have a puzzle table, we have a kids room, people can just make themselves at home here and that's what we want," says Wendy Marlow, Executive Director, Kamloops Hospice Association.

That very support, allowing Annie to focus on the quality of life she's enjoying today. Cherishing every moment she has left, with the people who have become so close to her heart. 

"It just feels like I'm wanted and loved by them, and I sure love them because they're so good, very good to me," says Burkhardt.

Hospice in Kamloops is fueled by public donations, without community support, the home wouldn't be able to run the way it does.  

Unlike other care facilities, hospice doesn't receive much government funding, and relies on the public for help. Fundraising events like An Evening To Remember, which this year raised $75,000 help, but the facility relies heavily on individual donations as well.

"In order to stay operational, we have to raise $800,000 a year, it's our community that makes that happen, on top of that if we had need for medical equipment, or a few years to re-floor the hospice, that on top, so we have to fundraise for that," says Marlow.

For more information on Hospice, and to donate to Marjorie Willoughby Snowden Hospice in Kamloops, go online  www.kamloopshospice.com, or drop by the facility in person, located at 72 Whiteshield Crescent in Sahali. 

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