Photo © Rodnae Productions
Dorothy Ley Hospice: We will be there when you need us
McKaila had just tucked her four-year-old child into bed when she answered the Hospice Palliative Helpline call on a Friday night in the fall of 2021. It was a fellow mom calling.
The mom was preparing for an unfathomable conversation. Her husband had a palliative illness and was nearing the end of life within days. She hadn’t yet talked to her two young children about what would happen. The mom needed guidance to help her have the conversation and didn’t know where to turn. Thankfully, the Hospice Palliative Helpline was available, and McKaila, Hospice Services Coordinator at The Dorothy Ley Hospice in Etobicoke, was covering the nighttime on-call shift.
“I spent an hour and a half with the mom,” McKaila remembered. “I supported her emotionally and provided resources. I offered myself; I said let’s talk about this. Practice with me. I think she felt supported, and she needed that.”
The 24/7 helpline is one of the ways the team at The Dorothy Ley Hospice wraps care around people living with a life-limiting illness and their loved ones who are going through the end-of-life journey with them. The helpline is provided in partnership with other hospices in the GTA and is an innovation from the pandemic.
Awareness of hospice services has increased in the last few years, along with demand. But still, there’s not widespread knowledge of this critical part of Ontario’s healthcare system or that hospice services are free to the community—made possible thanks to generous donors, dedicated volunteers and government funding.
Through The Dorothy Ley Hospice, Etobicoke and west Toronto residents with life-limiting illnesses and their families and caregivers have access to various services designed to reduce suffering and improve quality of life. Supports include care coordination and counselling, palliative physician care, spiritual care, wellness programs, grief support, and caregiver support. These services are available through both the in-home community program and at the residence located near Sherway Gardens Mall.
The Dorothy Ley Hospice’s grief and bereavement supports include grief support groups, one-on-one professional grief counselling, peer companions, and various social, spiritual and wellness supports for grievers. Anyone in the Etobicoke community can access the services—you don’t need to have a loved one receiving hospice care.
Dipti noted, “Our goal is to build a community for those suffering losses—so they know they’re not alone. Unprocessed grief can impact everything—relationships, work, addiction, health and the ability to find meaning, purpose and joy in life. We offer support to help people move forward.”
Dipti said that while the last few years have been challenging, managing through the pandemic has strengthened their team. “We’ve gotten through it because of our incredible staff, volunteers, palliative physician partners, board, donors and partners—they are true heroes with compassionate hearts. We’ve learned how nimble and creative we are. It’s shown us how, together, we can expand our services and accelerate innovation to meet the increasing needs of our community.”
The team is looking ahead to expanding the in-residence care program and increasing access to community-based care. To learn more about The Dorothy Ley Hospice programs and services, volunteer, or donate to support the growing need, visit dlhospice.org
Founded in 1990, The Dorothy Ley Hospice is a volunteer-based community service organization offering compassionate care to people living with the challenges of a life-limiting illness or loss.