Hospice Enhancement Team volunteers Betty Riley and Thelma Stickle check out one of the five new five hospice rooms at Trillium Lodge Friday morning during the official opening.

Hospcice beds now open in Parksville

Island Health will provide clinical care while Oceanside Hospice provides staff and volunteers

Emotions ran high Friday morning as the new five-bed Hospice space was officially unveiled at Trillium Lodge in Parksville Qualicum Beach, which has one of the oldest populations in the country.

“End of life affects all of us at some point,” said a teary-eyed Michelle Stilwell, Parksville Qualicum MLA and Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation.

Pausing for a moment to collect herself, Stilwell continued: “It is my honour to thank all the compassionate healthcare workers and professionals who deliver such amazing care at the end of life.”

Located in the Eastwood East wing at Trillium Lodge residential care facility, the new five-bed hospice space will provide patients and their families with clinical supports and care through to the end of life. The unit includes a private entrance and patio and patients will have private rooms with bathrooms so they can share private time with their families and visitors. Island Health is hoping to get clients in Trillium Lodge this month.

Island Health will provide clinical care to patients, while Oceanside Hospice Society will provide dedicated staff and volunteers.

Regional District of Nanaimo chair Joe Stanhope warmly welcomed the new beds.

“It’s just wonderful,” said Stanhope. “It’s fundamental. We’re all going to need something somewhere along the way. This is key.”

Island Health board chair Don Hubbard said the opening of hospice at Trillium Lodge is part of Island Health’s commitment to double the number of Hospice spaces to 64 by 2020.

“These new beds will make it easier for families in Qualicum Beach as it’s the oldest community in Canada,” said Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek, commending Island Health for their “commitment to getting things done.”

The rooms are carefully decorated with cozy accents to make it feel like a home away from home.

In large part, the design came by way of the Hospice Enhancement Team, a group of volunteers who raised more than $15,000 to give the rooms an extra touch of comfort.

“The goal was to make the rooms like a big hug,” said Thelma Stickle, a member of the enhancement team who started volunteering with hospice after losing her husband and using the society’s services in Victoria before relocating to Parksville Qualicum Beach.

“The best part is I feel like I’m giving back and that’s even better… I guess I’m a selfish volunteer,” she said with a laugh.

The service model for the hospice space is a joint effort of the local Hospice Bed Steering Committee including representatives from Island Health, Oceanside Hospice Society, the Federation of Oceanside Residents’ Association, the Oceanside Division of Family Practice, the Inter Tribal Health Authority and the Patient Voices Network.

According to a news release issued by Island Health, the health authority has developed an end of life care plan and will continue to work on enhancements to a range of end of life care programs and services, including beds throughout its service area. Island Health’s end of life care plan is a long term vision that will be put in place as resources and competing priorities allow.

The new beds come after years of community outcry.

Last October, Qualicum Beach resident Carol Dowe, who leads the Oceanside Palliative Caregivers group, sent a petition brimming with 4,000 signatures to Victoria calling for more palliative care beds. At the time, Parksville Qualicum Beach only had one bed.

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