Join the Williams Lake Hospice Society this Sunday at Scout Island for their Third Annual Hike for Hospice.
This event, which runs from noon to 4 p.m., is in support of the Williams Lake Hospice Society — a non-profit, volunteer-based organization which relies on community support to function.
Daphne Johnson, the executive director at the Society, said the mission of the Williams Lake Hospice Society is to improve the quality of life of those individuals and their families facing life-limiting illness, death or bereavement, through skilled and compassionate support, education and advocacy.
“When I started this I was just supposed to be the volunteer services co-ordinator and it just kept growing and growing. It’s my passion, I love my job,” Johnson said.
Volunteers are the heart of hospice, she said, and provide supportive visiting for palliative individuals in their homes and in care facilities.
“We have 37 active volunteers (15 sitting, 14 events/projects/board/office support and eight student/youth) that delivered 1,673.5 hours (2018/19) of volunteer services. All of our services provided are free, there is no monetary exchange for our support.”
Johnson said each client care volunteer takes an in-depth three or four day training based on the core competencies and norms of practice set out by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association and the BC Hospice Palliative Care Association. These modules include, discussions about death and dying, the philosophies of being a volunteer, communication, psychosocial/psychological issues and support, family and family dynamics, physical issues and support including pain and symptom management, death rituals and advance care planning, dementia topics and support, bereavement and grief support, spiritual matters and support, and self care.
“Our volunteers are not counsellors, but support workers. Each volunteer is interviewed, has a criminal record check completed, receives on-going education,” she noted.
Volunteer training is scheduled two times a year and hospice also provides palliative approach support training to TRU health care students (173) and other community service providers (20). 208 people since 2014, she said
”We also provide anticipatory grief and bereavement support materials. Our resource library is available to individuals, their families and the general public. In addition, we loan medical grade sheepskins and other comfort items (safety monitors) to individuals. We assist with furnishings and supplies for the two designated palliative suites/a family room in Deni House. With donations we purchased two RoHo mattress and a reclining chair, a suction unit, bed alarms, hip protectors, CD players, air fans and care cart items.”
Johnson said palliative care focuses on caring, not curing, an individual’s change of care and on their life, not their death. The Williams Lake Hospice Society does not hasten or postpone death but instead makes the journey to the end of life easier.
“Everyone has a fear around death, no one wants to talk about it. We’re a death-denying society, it’s the elephant in the room so what (the Hospice Society) is there for and why it’s important is we can start these conversations about advanced care planning or with families, asking them what they and the individual want,” Johnson said.
The society is just a phone call away and Johnson encourages people to reach out to the society at 250-392-5430 or check out their website online if they need their services or wish to volunteer.
The upcoming Hike for Hospice is a Canadian-wide event, held on Hospice Awareness Month, which she encourages the whole community to attend for both the society’s sake and their own health and wellness.
The event will be run in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Williams Lake and District who will be providing activities and there will be draws for prizes throughout the day.