This past October, Her Honour, the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, invited Victoria Hospice to Government House for our Fall Donor Tea – a special celebration to thank our kind donors for their crucial support.
Along with our donors, Her Honour’s guests included members of our community who run annual fundraising events on behalf of Hospice, including Cycle of Life’s Graham Robertson, David Saele, and Stuart Berry; Anneswer to Cancer’s Brett Hyslop and Steph Steiner; Al Paterson (a.k.a. “Airport Santa”), who gives up his generous white beard each December at Victoria International Airport in the Santa Shave-Off, and David Rai, who shaved his beard as a fundraiser complementing the annual Clews Golf Tournament.
All of these generous donors were moved to raise support for and awareness of Hospice through personal experience of what Hospice staff did to care for their loved ones at a challenging point in their lives.
That challenge, and the spirit of giving, was celebrated in remarks given by Angela Bruce, Community Response Coordinator at Hospice. Angela described shifting from serving as a labour and delivery nurse for twenty years to working with Hospice patients, a job she started at Hospice 10 years ago. “A maternity nurse that I worked with said to me, ‘The moment of birth and the moment of death is when the veil between this world and the next is the thinnest,’” Angela explained. “The longer I work with Hospice patients, the more similarities I see between the two types of nursing. Specifically, here is a person who is facing an intense challenge, and I am going to do everything I can to help them.”
It is that same compassionate need to help that moves our community to give of their time and financial resources so that Hospice may continue its important work. In gratitude to all our donors, it’s an honour to share Angela Bruce’s remarks here in full.
I worked as a Labour & Delivery nurse for almost 20 years.
During the last four years of working Maternity, I also worked in a Palliative Care unit.
A Maternity nurse that I worked with said to me, "The moment of birth and the moment of death is when the veil between this world and the next is the thinnest."
This had a profound impact on me, and the longer I work with Hospice patients, the more similarities I see between the two types of nursing. Specifically, here is a person who is facing an intense challenge, and I am going to do everything I can to help them.
When I moved from Winnipeg to Victoria, the manager of our Palliative Care Unit said, "You've got to go work at Victoria Hospice." This was because we used the Victoria Hospice textbook as a resource on our unit, and the manager and other staff members had been at the Medical Intensive course that Victoria Hospice offers twice a year. They had great respect for what Victoria Hospice does to spread excellence in end of life care.
I am happy to say that I have worked for Victoria Hospice for ten years this month, and I would like to highlight two specific aspects of Victoria Hospice.
The first is our Palliative Response Team (PRT). I am sure most of you are aware of our response team that goes out to homes 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. What you may not be aware of is that they greatly decrease the number of visits to the always busy ER, and greatly decrease the number of admissions to the acute care hospital.
My vision is that PRT would be replicated on every population center, not only to provide excellence in patient care, but also as an effective use of health care dollars and resources.
The second aspect of Victoria Hospice I would like to highlight is its commitment to education. We are all aware of the demographic shift that is occurring – that there will be more people needing care and less people to provide care. We don't want the ability to provide excellent symptom control at end of life to be a closely guarded secret. We want it to be spread far and wide.
The model of care at Victoria Hospice is different than many other hospices. Many hospices have primary responsibility for directing a patient’s care move from the family physician to the hospice physician, supported by a small group of hospice trained nurses. Our doctors work as consultants at the request of the attending physicians or the family physician. Our palliative care physicians provide consultation and recommendations in the hospital acute wards, long term care facilities, and in patient homes, thereby sharing symptom control techniques with an expanding group of clinicians.
Also, instead of a small group of hospice nurses providing care, we make the home care nurses part of our team. Every home care nurse in the Victoria area has the opportunity to attend a an orientation and training provided by Victoria Hospice, weekly rounds at a health care units allow challenging cases can be discussed by the whole team, and education rounds plus many other ongoing educational opportunities. The goal is to have an increasing number of people who are skilled in providing end of life care.
When I worked in Labor & Delivery and people asked me what I did, they would say "Ohhh – that's so nice!”
Now that I work for Hospice, people say, "Ohhh", often followed by, "I don't know how you do it."
What I say to them is that the way that I am able to do this, the way we all are able to do this work is that when we see someone facing an intense challenge, instead of turning away, we hope to do everything we can to help through this.
Thank you for being part of the team that helps Victoria Hospice provide this care.
- Angela Bruce