Until Last Breaths: The Rewarding Experience of Delivering Hospice Palliative Care


Photo © Courtesy of Hospice Palliative Care Ontario

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As our population ages and more of us near the end of life and experience loss and grief, the more we’ll demand hospice palliative care—quality of life care supporting people to live as well as possible until last breaths.

“Dying, death and grief are experiences we’ll all face as a result of being human. I want to equip people to make caring for someone to the end of life manageable and meaningful and draw strength from the experience of learning to live with grief.” —Betty Ann Rutledge, Manager of Volunteer Services, Hospice Toronto

Palliative care is provided in home, hospital, and long-term care, but communities across Ontario have grassroots hospice residences—for people who can no longer be cared for at home but don’t need hospital care. Hospices are unique residences offering holistic care and compassionate support for loved ones.

“I specialized in palliative care right out of nursing school and never looked back. I take pride in assisting clients and families along their journey to ensure that their end-of-life goals are met, their death is comfortable, and they’re surrounded by love and support.” —Tamara Hennigar, Director of Care, Margaret Bahen Hospice, Newmarket, Ontario

“It’s inspiring to see the grace and beauty in end of life care and the genuine empathy and compassion our clinical team extends on a daily basis to perfect strangers.” —Lindsey Jones, Volunteer and Support Coordinator, Nipissing Serenity Hospice, North Bay.

Lindsey Jones Photo © Courtesy of Hospice Palliative Care Ontario
003-GHN - HPCO - Rutledge Betty Ann
Betty Ann Rutledge Photo © Courtesy of Hospice Palliative Care Ontario

People who work in hospice palliative care gain enormous satisfaction helping ease fear, pain, and grief associated with dying and death. For the dying and their families, the experience is deeply meaningful and healing.

The first thing people notice when entering a hospice is the aroma of baking and simmering soup. Rooms are private with space for family and friends to gather, celebrate life and say goodbye.

“It’s because of the hospice that my father passed in such peace and comfort. We were able to really be there with him. We’ve so many stories of the memories made in that room, in that hospice. We’re a close family and appreciated having that space and support to be together.” —Family member – St. Joseph Hospice, Sarnia-Lambton

While hospices take the burden and cost from hospitals, local fundraising still covers about half of the operating costs of Ontario hospices.

“Hospices are desirable and cost-effective. We’re working with Government to cover all clinical costs in hospices, but we aren’t there. It’s so important to support local hospices—buying a raffle or event ticket, making a single or regular donation, or a legacy gift,” says Rick Firth, President and CEO of Hospice Palliative Care Ontario. “Demand is increasing rapidly. Hospices are the humane and appropriate response to a very human experience.”

To learn more, visit hpco.ca

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Hospice Palliative Care Ontario is a provincial association for hospices and palliative care providers, professionals, and volunteers throughout Ontario.


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