Frequently Asked Questions

The Victoria Hospice Society is a not-for-profit agency with roughly 100 full and part-time staff and 400 volunteers and an annual budget of just over $7 million dollars.  We receive roughly half of our annual funding from the local health authority and half from the generous donations of the community.

Community donations support all Victoria Hospice services and programs that are not funded through the health care system – counselling, spiritual care, bereavement services, volunteer coordination and training, and a significant portion of our Palliative Response Team. The Victoria Hospice and Palliative Care Foundation is responsible for raising funds required to meet the expanding need for Victoria Hospice palliative care programs. You can help us by making a donation to support end-of-life care in our community.

Victoria Hospice works in partnership with Home & Community Care Nurses. These nurses are responsible for initial registration of our patients and ongoing coordination of care at home. Patients may register with us before actually requiring services. If a patient does not have a Home Care Nurse, the family physician can request a Home & Community Care Nurse home visit. People living in Greater Victoria may also contact the Vancouver Island Health Authority General Enquiries toll-free telephone line: 1 888 533-CARE (2273) or the Victoria Hospice Community Office 250-370-8715 (Hours 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, Monday – Friday). More information on registering with Victoria Hospice.

People in Greater Victoria facing advanced stages of any progressive illness may register for Victoria Hospice care, provided that patients, family members and physicians all understand and agree that the focus of care should now be on comfort instead of cure. Typically, patients have a prognosis of 6-12 months. They can register with Victoria Hospice even before any of our services are actually required.

Our In-Patient Unit is located on the third floor of the Richmond Pavilion (RP3) at the Royal Jubilee Hospital, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. It is a 17-bed unit consisting of seven acute care or assessment beds, nine long term care beds, and one respite bed. The goal for admission to acute care beds is to provide active symptom management so that patients can go back home. For patients admitted to long term care beds, our unit in effect becomes their home. As with all other long term care beds in our region, there is a charge for these beds - the rate is determined by the patient’s Long Term Care Case Manager. Our long term care respite bed is used for patients who need to come into our unit for symptom management, or to give caregivers at home a break, usually for a one-week stay.

Our In-Patient Unit is decorated to look as home-like as possible. There are 11 private rooms and three semi-private rooms. We also have a lounge, kitchen area, meditation room, solarium, rooftop garden and a ventilated smoking room (restricted to patients only). Each room contains a small refrigerator, a television and stereo equipment. Patients are encouraged to bring in items from home such as family portraits, favourite foods or a special quilt to make their rooms feel more comfortable. Visiting hours are unrestricted; children and pets are invited to visit as well (with family supervision).

Hospice care is a philosophy of care, not just a place. On any given day, over 400 people are registered with Victoria Hospice. Most Victoria Hospice patients receive care in their own homes. This is possible through our partnership with Vancouver Island Health Authority’s Home & Community Care and Home Support Services. Our Victoria Hospice on-call Palliative Response Team (PRT) provides short-term crisis consultation and treatment at home, day or night, for problems that might otherwise require stressful and expensive admission to hospital. Together with Community Counsellors, Spiritual Care and Volunteers, PRT is also available to help support death at home.

Victoria Hospice palliative care can also be provided, when necessary, in the beautifully refurbished homelike setting of our 17-bed palliative care In-Patient Unit at Royal Jubilee Hospital. Our palliative care staff also frequently provide specific medical consultations to patients and staff in other health care facilities throughout the community.

 

We have close links to local hospitals where we provide medical consultations and advice to patients, family members and staff. Some patients admitted to general hospital wards may be transferred to the Victoria Hospice In-Patient Unit if appropriate and if one of our 17 beds is available.

The terms hospice and palliative care are used interchangeably in most parts of Canada. Hospice palliative care - or comfort care - is an integrated program in which expert physical, social, emotional and spiritual support is provided to patients and family members coping with advanced illness, death and bereavement.  Find out more about the history of hospice palliative care.

No. Approximately 70% of our registered patients have cancer. Other diagnoses include ALS, circulatory, neurological, respiratory and other chronic and progressive diseases.

 No. We have no designated religious affiliation. Spiritual care services are available upon request and include:

  • consultation with our full-time Victoria Hospice Spiritual and Religious Care Coordinator
  • non-denominational, interfaith spiritual counselling
  • help in planning funerals or other rituals to mark times of loss and change
  • help to connect with a faith or traditions that have meaning for you
  • companioning by a volunteer
  • referral to community clergy and faith communities

 

  • Comfort vs. cure: For most health care professionals, the goal is to help the patient get well.  At Victoria Hospice, the staff, volunteers and family recognize that the patient is not likely to recover from their illness. We focus on comfort and support, rather than cure.
  • Interdisciplinary team approach: Members of the Victoria Hospice care team – physicians, nurses, counsellors, spiritual caregivers, support staff, volunteers – ALL work together to coordinate care along with our community care partners.
  • Family focus: Victoria Hospice care focuses on the entire family. Hospice staff and volunteers help family members become involved in the patient’s care as well as access care for themselves.
  • Grief Support: Victoria Hospice care does not end when a patient dies. Our bereavement counsellors, support staff and volunteers maintain contact with family members for up to one year after the death of their loved one.

 

Our Counselling and Bereavement programs offer support and counselling to patients, family members (including children and teens) or close friends, offering help in coming to terms with advanced illness, death and loss, both before and after a death occurs. Trained professional and volunteer chaplains can provide spiritual support as well. Practical advice about settling estates, wills and funeral planning may also be provided. After the death, the Victoria Hospice Bereavement Services program offers a variety of support groups and services for adults and children, and follows families of registered patients for one year with assessment, grief counselling or bereavement support groups as needed. Learn more about counselling and bereavement services at Victoria Hospice.

A Home & Community Care Nurse provides detailed information to a patient about the services Victoria Hospice offers, and makes sure that the person and family members understand that hospice care is palliative (aimed at comfort and symptom relief, not a cure). After consulting with the patient and family, the Home Care Nurse will request the appropriate Victoria Hospice services and will leave a "Palliative Care At Home" binder with the patient. This manual serves as the health record and chart for recording care information, and informs the patient and family about services, care and the impact of progressive illness.  People with a terminal diagnosis can register for Victoria Hospice services before the need for such services exists.  Find out more about registering.

In general, there is no fee for Victoria Hospice services; however, as determined by provincial government policy, there is a daily charge for our long term and respite care beds. In addition, some bereavement groups may have a charge to cover basic expenses. Since February 2001, the BC Palliative Care Benefits Program allows BC residents receiving palliative care services at home to receive at no cost selected medications, supplies and equipment needed for care and treatment. Check with your physician, Victoria Hospice or your Home Care Nurse for more information on this benefits program.

The Victoria Hospice Society is a not-for-profit agency with roughly 100 full and part-time staff and 400 volunteers and an annual budget of just over $7 million dollars.  We receive roughly half of our annual funding from the local health authority and half from the generous donations of the community through our Victoria Hospice and Palliative Care Foundation.

No. Many of our patients are admitted to our In-Patient Unit for a short period of time so that symptoms may be managed, or a one-week respite can be provided for caregivers at home. These short stays often mean that patients are able to return home with follow-up support from Home & Community Care Nurses, Home Support services and family physicians.

Legislation governing Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) was passed by the Federal Parliament on June 17, 2016. This means MAiD is now legal in Canada when provided within the purview of the legislation. As a partially publicly funded healthcare institution we are obliged to follow the law, therefore when patients enquire about MAiD within our programs, we provide them with information in an unbiased way. For more information on MAiD please visit the Island Health website.

Quality end-of-life care for all: Our mission is to enhance the quality of life for those facing advancing illness, death and bereavement through skilled and compassionate care, education, research and advocacy.