Last Wednesday, May 4, the St. Mary/St. Cecilia Catholic Women’s League held a “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care” at St. Mary’s Church in Morrisburg, with supporters dropping by throughout the day.
The event began at 9 a.m. with mass and wrapped up with guest speakers in the evening
The Catholic Women’s League of Canada initiative was held in conjunction with National Hospice Palliative Care Week as a profound vision to the sanctity of human life.
Although she would have liked to have seen more people attend, St. Mary/St. Cecilia Catholic Women’s League president Catherine Lortie said the day went well.
Guest speakers, Kimberly Patterson (a social worker at Winchester District Memorial Hospital and the St. Lawrence Medical Clinic) and Linda Johnson, (Director of Client Services at Dundas County Hospice) were both very interesting she said.
For 32 of her 42 years of nursing, Johnson as an oncology nurse at WDMH. She recently changed her focus to Palliative Care and is now with the Dundas County Hospice, located in Williamsburg.
“I hope I can shed some light on palliative care to you tonight,” said Johnson. “There are many myths out there about palliative care . It is not about dying. It’s about living life to the fullest. It should be offered early, and when started early it will give better quality of life. It is not restricted to end of life and can be done along wide other treatments.”
“The goal of Palliative Care is to control the pain and keep the patients as coherent as possible. It is applicable for all ages and for many different diseases.”
Dundas County Hospice was established in 1992. Anyone living in Dundas County with life limited disease is welcome.
Johnson explained that “we take our services to our clients in their homes”
After a police check and a 30 hours palliative care course, volunteers are matched with a family.
“The visiting volunteer fills the role of companionship, and gives caregivers a bit of respite.”
Once a week, clients can also come to hospice to enjoy a nice day with others, some lunch, crafts, maybe cards.
Complimentary care, such as foot care, message and meditation is offered free of charge, a support group meets once a month, and an equipment loaning program is available for short and long term, and for palliative and non-palliative needs.
“Fifty-five percent of our budget is provided by government funding, and the remaining 45 percent is raised through in-memorials, donations and fundraising”
Kimberly Patterson, a social worker at Winchester District Memorial Hospital for two years, has been working on an advance care planning program.
“We don’t often think hard enough about what we want in our last moments, our last days, our last weeks. You need to let the people in your life know what is important to you in your last days, so they can speak for you when you can’t speak for yourself.”
“It’s always too early until it’s too late. Share your wishes for your future health care.”
“Let them know what is important to you, what your worries are. That is why palliative care is important to begin those conversations early.”
“You need to decide who is going to speak on your behalf. If you have a power of attorney, that is great. If you don’t, in Ontario that would first be your spouse or common law partner, followed by children over 16 or your parent and then other relatives.”
“Because these are difficult conversation decide when and where you want to have them. Make sure you start having these conversations sooner than later.”
The day-long prayer event concluded with a brief question and answer period and the presentation of a donation made to hospice by CWL member Jessica Lortie.
Literature on palliative care, euthanasia and end of life planning was available for pickup and a petition “urging recognition and funding for hospice palliative care across Canada” was available for signing.