Patients benefit from 24-hour nursing care at Aitken Community Hospice in the Comox Valley, in addition to care from their family physician and a palliative care team.

Patients benefit from 24-hour nursing care at Aitken Community Hospice in the Comox Valley, in addition to care from their family physician and a palliative care team.

Comox Valley welcomes brand new community hospice

Purpose-built hospice brings greater resources for those needing palliative care and their families

As the Comox Valley Hospice Society opens the doors this week to the new Aitken Community Hospice, a purpose-built hospice overlooking the Courtenay estuary, it can now care for more individuals nearing end of life and their families.

Beyond increasing the capacity to six beds from four, the brand new hospice is intentionally designed to meet both the care needs of patients and the accompanying needs of their loved ones, notes Jane Sterk, Executive Director, Comox Valley Hospice Society.

“When a person is admitted to hospice, it’s with the knowledge they’re in the last 90 days of life, so we want to provide a home-like setting,” Sterk says. “There’s also consistency in all the rooms and they’ve been designed specifically for people in the final months of life.”

Beyond the purpose-built building, the location at Ocean Front Village on Cliffe Avenue offers a beautiful setting overlooking the Courtenay River estuary, a peaceful space for patients and families, Sterk notes.

Golden Life Management, a family-run Canadian company based in Cranbrook, built, owns and operates the Ocean Front Village and provides the patient care at the Aitken Community Hospice.

Patients benefit from 24-hour nursing care in the hospice. Throughout their stay, patients are under the care of their family physician. In addition, the care team that surrounds the patient and their family includes a Palliative Nurse Coordinator, a palliative physician and a hospice society palliative counsellor. Those without a GP are followed by an MRP, a local physician who agrees to support the patient.

“It’s a very safe and secure environment,” Sterk says, adding that families are able to be with patients 24 hours a day, and well-behaved, leashed family pets are also welcome.

With Comox Valley Hospice Society offices now adjacent to the hospice, rather than off-site, the move also brings the staff and volunteers closer to patients.

“We have a counsellor on-site who can work with individuals and families on things like anticipatory grief and having important end of life conversations, so it’s a huge advantage being close by,” Sterk says.

Not everyone who benefits from Comox Valley Hospice Society care does so on-site. The Hospice team supports people in the community, who choose to finish their journey at home; others may be cared for in a hospital setting.

Recognizing that the impacts of a person’s palliative diagnosis and death reach beyond the individual, Hospice care also encompasses their loved ones.

“We support people during their loved one’s final days and follow the families afterwards,” Sterk says. “When people have supports in the dying, anticipatory grief and grieving process, there’s evidence that it can make the grief and bereavement less overwhelming.”

Support Hospice care in the Comox Valley

As a non-profit society, Comox Valley Hospice relies on the generosity of the community to provide these vital services. Beyond direct donations, the new facility also brings several hospice room naming opportunities, along with another for the family lounge. All are available to an individual, family or organization – to learn more, contact Jane Sterk at 250-339-5533 or email ed@comoxhospice.com

Comox Valley Hospice also depends on volunteers for many of its services, and the team was recently able to host their first volunteer training session since the pandemic. Learn more about volunteer opportunities at comoxhospice.com/become-a-volunteer

To learn more about the Comox Valley Hospice Society and hospice care in the Comox Valley, visit comoxhospice.com

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