A New Hospice A New Centre of Excellence – Hospice Vaughan

Hospice Vaughan normalizes one of the most natural parts of life, opening the lines of communication about death and offering a number of programs that support the psychosocial and emotional wellness of individuals and their families as they journey through a terminal diagnosis. The hospice is expanding its reach with a new, much-needed hospice palliative care facility in Vaughan, and it seeks the community’s support.

Since 1995, Hospice Vaughan has operated grief and bereavement support, volunteer outreach and palliative care services out of their quaint Woodbridge Avenue location. Fast-forward 20 years and Vaughan has become one of the most rapidly growing cities in Canada with a large aging population, further demonstrating the need for a larger facility to service more individuals and families.

“A key linchpin within any city or region is a residential hospice, and there are currently no residential palliative care beds in Vaughan,” says Dr. Vincent Maida, palliative medicine specialist and Hospice Vaughan board member.

Hospice palliative care is a philosophy of care that is offered to any patient with an advanced incurable disease to aid in the relief of suffering from the day of diagnosis.

As Dr. Maida explains, hospice palliative care is the most universal need of all citizens. “One hundred per cent of us are going to need hospice palliative care, and the presence of a new facility will equate to improve access and hospice palliative care. Furthermore, the availability of a comprehensive residential hospice will translate into quantum savings for the overall health- care system,” says Dr. Maida.

According to reports, the cost per day of palliative care in an acute-care hospital bed is $1,100, signficantly more than the $460 per day for hospice care. The presence of the anticipated new facility will also help to alleviate congestion at the future Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital through much-needed robust and comprehensive hospice palliative care programs.

The new 25,000-square-foot Hospice Vaughan facility is expected to open its doors in 2019, and it will host 10 residential beds and include numerous additions to the hospice’s current menu of essential services. The new building will also hold a Centre of Excellence to promote and support inter-professional research, education and knowledge translation.

“By putting it on the map with a huge physical presence and government support, we’ll be able to maintain our philosophy of quality care, along with additional bereavement and family support services,” says Wendy Graham, manager of hospice services at Hospice Vaughan.

Unlike a hospital, what makes Hospice Vaughan so integral and unique is its support for caregivers and families of terminally ill individuals. “We have such an unsung number of caregivers in the home that desperately need the support before they become patients themselves,” says Graham.

Hospice Vaughan offers unique courses and therapies tailored to caregivers, as well as children’s grief programs and a Caring Hands Day Program that welcomes individuals with a terminal diagnosis and their caregivers for a weekly social gathering.

These are a handful of the many supports offered to individuals and families affected by a life-limiting illness. “Through education, communication and by maintaining a really professional, well-trained staff, we’re able to offer such well-rounded services,” says Graham.

Hospice Vaughan wants to do more. The organization aims to offer better end-of-life care and better support for families, caregivers and friends, along with promoting an increased awareness and understanding of the hospice palliative care philosophy.

“Everyone deserves three things: a good birth, a good life and a good death,” says Dr. Maida.

With the government only supporting approximately 40 cents of every dollar of expenditures, Hospice Vaughan hopes that the support of the community will help the new facility come to fruition and become the hub of hospice palliative care for the City of Vaughan and beyond. “We talk about needing a whole village to raise a child, we need to carry that mentality forward and use that whole village to help a person die a dignified death and support the whole family,” says Graham.

Donations and support for Hospice Vaughan can be pledged on the organization’s website.

31 Woodbridge Ave., Vaughan,Ont.

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