LONDON’S ST JOSEPH’S HOSPICE MAKES A DIFFERENCE
The deadly words death/ deceased speak quietly of the end of our lives. Canadian polite society for the most part try to avoid the subject all-together not able/ wanting to accept the reality that everyone dies.
At my age the present is a fleeting finite moment in time and death is a future constant in my life: the
only question is when and how I will die? " People plan and God laughs" the sages teach us. We all
have two non renewable precious resources: our health and our time.
To help relieve my fears of the unknown Ella and I went to the St Joseph’s Hospice on Windermere
Road for a tour and a delicious lunch. We were warmly greeted by Perry Esler, Director, Community Engagement and Development, Linda Palmer, Development Officer & Julie Johnston, the Executive Director.
I have to confess that I am not comfortable in a hospital like setting and suffer from " white coat syndrome": a fast heart beat along with soaring blood pressure numbers even when I see my doctor for
a check up. Wonder of wonders I found that I was very comfortable in the St Joe’s’ Hospice. It was similar to visiting a five star hotel with all of the amenities that money can not buy.
I was impressed to learn that whether in the community, The Wellness Center, or the 10-suite residence, clients and their families receive quality care at no cost. St Joseph’s receive 45% of it’s operating funds from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to cover direct medical care, however they rely on donations from the community to fund the remaining 52% ( about $1.3 million annually).
Please come along with us to see what we learned. The building is set on a park- like setting with ten spacious suites with floor length windows and balconies facing the woods. The usual sterile antiseptic hospital odors have been replaced by the aroma of coffee, fresh baked muffins and chocolate chip cookies in the morning.
Specially designed beds chairs, air mattresses and bathrooms help alleviate the pain for the residents. There are beautiful welcoming rooms with fire place inserts that have been set aside to encourage the family members and friends to visit the residents 24/7.
In our busy lives time, computers, cell phones seems to be the essence of our being. None of the staff were attached to their umbilical like cell phones: instead the staff focused on the well being of their patients.
I did not observe any clocks keeping track of ordinary time. The patients and staff seemed content to focus on eternal time. Seconds, minutes hours days, stress, seemed to evaporate into thin air to be replaced by a beautiful rainbow of contentment time to reflect on one’s past memories of love and affection.
There is even a special room set aside for a spa offering up warm inviting baths, stylish hair styles and manicures/pedicures to make you feel special.
"Hospice provides therapeutic treatments and energy therapies such as massage therapy, reflex ology from professional therapists".
St Joseph’s warmly welcomes all people in need of a hospice setting regardless of one’s faith ethnicity
or sexual orientation. Everyone needs to have a raison d’etre, a reason to feel appreciated for their
being special. Last year they cared for more then 160 palliative care residents who benefitted from the end- of- life specialized care.
Hospice spent 2,300 hours visiting those living with a terminal illness in the community and provided
500 individual counseling and group programs for the bereaved. 320 volunteers graciously gave of their time. along with a caring staff of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists who all works in tandem to bring forth a sense of respite to the dying and their families.
The average stay for those in need is 21 days but there are no final best- before- dates set in stone to vacate the center. When it is the people’s time to move on to a different destination the move has been made easier with the help of St Joe’s Hospice .
I observed an Honour Guard of care-givers who escorted a recently deceased former resident of
hospice to the waiting funeral van. They all bowed their heads and folded their arms to show their
respect for the departed. The simple farewell gesture ceremony of adieu is accorded to all the deceased former residents. I was very impressed.
The Mission statement seemed to sum it all up: "St Joseph’s Hospice cares for people on their end -of- life journey and provides a haven where the palliative , the care giver and the bereaved experience compassion, hope and healing."
You too can make a difference. You can share the journey. Ella and I have decided to add St Joseph’s Hospice to our living will to ensure that the good work/deeds are there for people in need at the end of their life. Check out the St Joseph’s excellent web site www.sjhospicelondon.com
Not to worry folks: we have set aside adequate funds for our adult children and grandchildren that they have enough to do something but not enough to do nothing.
Len is an education/career counsellor in Dorchester ,Ont.