What hospice is — and is not

Dear editor,
This past Friday (Oct. 7), a guest editorial from the Victoria News regarding End of Life Care in British Columbia was reprinted in the Comox Valley Record.
As I began reading the piece, I was pleased that a thoughtful and realistic view of this looming issue was being addressed in a forthright manner.

Dear editor,This past Friday (Oct. 7), a guest editorial from the Victoria News regarding End of Life Care in British Columbia was reprinted in the Comox Valley Record.As I began reading the piece, I was pleased that a thoughtful and realistic view of this looming issue was being addressed in a forthright manner.Unfortunately, as I read on, I was horrified by the description of “hospices” which was, at best, grossly inaccurate and misleading.  In addition, it was disconcerting to see the implication that currently non-existent funding for hospices should be diverted to other programs such as iPANEL.First, “hospice” refers to a philosophy of care — regardless of where that care is delivered. Hospice care is compassionate, holistic end-of-life care which focuses on supporting the person who is dying and their loved ones to live each day to the fullest.At the core of this care is a respect for the person’s dignity and comfort — all based on their choices and beliefs. Hospice care can be provided in hospitals which sometimes have palliative care units, in residential hospices, in nursing homes or in the person’s home. Second, when the term “hospice” is used to describe the location of care, it refers to homelike places where the person is cared for in a private room by specially trained multi-disciplinary staff.Family members and loved ones are encouraged to be present and involved — rather than having to abide by the more rigid guidelines often found in acute care facilities. Hospice care focuses on the medical, emotional, spiritual and practical concerns of the dying person and their loved ones.Grief and bereavement support is offered to those who must go on living with their lives forever changed by the death of a loved one.  Support for caregivers, often overwhelmed by the demands of caregiving, is also available.Further, in most communities in the province, people have almost no choice about where they will receive care in their last days and weeks.For example, on Vancouver Island, the only “hospice” is in Victoria — and, that is only partially funded by the Vancouver Island Health Authority — the majority of the funding comes from the generosity of the community through donations. In the Comox Valley, we have no dedicated acute palliative hospital beds/services and no residential hospice beds/services. People who do not choose to die at home or simply cannot be supported at home by their loved ones all too often end up in a hospital ward, or even worse, on a gurney in the hall — if they are able to be admitted at all.Home caregivers are all too often emotionally, physically and financially devastated as they are frequently given no alternative but to try and take this on.This is in no way meant to say that everyone is not trying to do their best — rather that many of the necessary resources and services are simply not available here.It is absolutely correct that each of us has a right, regardless of where we live, to have access to compassionate, high-quality and appropriate end-of-life care.It is also correct that policymakers have failed to address funding of these programs and services at even the most minimal levels — especially outside of Victoria and the Lower Mainland. Although certainly inequitable, availability of hospice services in our community is almost solely dependent on the generosity of the community forcing our community hospice to go begging for program funding. I would suggest, that while programs such as iPANEL are very worthwhile, they are not meant to replace hospices or other end of life care support which is desperately in need of core funding support from the province. As so accurately put by Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, in his 2005 Stanford University commencement address, “Death is a destination we all share.” If our community is to meet the ever-increasing end-of-life care demands being placed on both formal and informal caregivers, residents of the Comox Valley must work together to ensure each of us who is dying or caring for a loved one who is dying, has access to a full continuum of well co-ordinated and integrated hospice palliative care services as envisioned in the 2006 Ministry of Health Provincial End of Life Framework — a plan which has seen only very minimal implementation more than five years later.  Terri OdenealEditor’s note: Terri Odeneal is the executive director of the Comox Valley Hospice Society.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Cumberland is hoping for its lab at the Cumberland Health Centre to re-open. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland hopeful for lab re-opening

“People in Cumberland are getting a little bit left behind with the loss of that lab.”

Ramona Johnson at the I-Hos Gallery. Photo by Ali Roddam/Black Press
Community rallying to support I-Hos Gallery manager

Ramona Johnson has recently been diagnosed with cancer for the second time

Brian Chow, a medical first responder for the Comox Valley division of St. John Ambulance for over six years, is one of the volunteers giving time at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Comox. Photo supplied
Medical first responders volunteer at Comox vaccine clinic

St. John Ambulance Medical First Responder (MFR) volunteers are providing support and… Continue reading

A West Vancouver developer has applied to the City of Courtenay to construct a 39-unit strata development at 2650 Copperfield Rd. Scott Stanfield photo
Courtenay council gives second reading to contentious development proposal

At the May 3 meeting, Courtenay council approved second reading for a… Continue reading

Jay Valeri and Lyndsey Bell own Bigfoot Donuts in downtown Courtenay. File photo
Courtenay donut shop wins Small Business BC Award

Bigfoot Donuts has won the Premier’s People’s Choice category of the Small… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

Jay Valeri and Lyndsey Bell own Bigfoot Donuts in downtown Courtenay. File photo
Courtenay donut shop wins Small Business BC Award

Bigfoot Donuts has won the Premier’s People’s Choice category of the Small… Continue reading

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read