Horzion Palliative Care; providing comfort in the final hours

Horizon Palliative Care Inc. is marking its 35th anniversary in 2019.

By LEN GILLIS

When a person is dying, feeling lonely in their final days and hours, lost in their thoughts, maybe struggling with pain and perhaps feeling angry or afraid, there is no need for them to be alone.

These are some of the reasons why dozens of volunteers in the Timmins area. have taken special training as palliative care workers to be there when they’re needed.

2019 is a special time for Horizon Timmins Palliative Care Inc. The organization is celebrating 35 years that it has been working to provide support and accompaniment to clients and their families who are coping with a terminal illness.

The service began in 1984 as a service offered by the Catholic Diocese of Timmins,” said volunteer coordinator Helene Petroski of Timmins. But in a few years, it was discovered there was a need for change.

We realized the scope was much too narrow. The movement for palliative care was growing so there was definitely a need to increase the reaching out to the population in general,” said Petroski.

It was at a time when the Ontario government was starting to recognize palliative care and offering to provide financial support to groups that could bring the service to the community. The group in Timmins was known as Albatross.

And we applied. It was a long process. Finally we were approved by the Ministry of Health as the official bilingual group for Timmins,” she said. It was 1993 and the group changed its name to Horizon.

Our service is based on active listening and being present. We do not do any active care,” she explained. “Our volunteers are trained. We have 30 to 40 volunteers on our list at all times,” she added.

She said the volunteers wait for the call either from a family or a physician. Volunteers provide support and accompaniment to the dying person. Horizon also provides support to caregivers and family members.

Our volunteers are trained to be sensitive to the cultural, spiritual and linguistic needs of any client. Our service is free, confidential, bilingual,” she added. Petroski said volunteers are on call to provide support at any time of the day or night. She said currently Horizon is providing service at the rate of roughly 1500 hours per year to as many as 40 clients.

One of the biggest steps forward she said was the decision by the Ministry of Health to allocate funding for the creation of a formal hospice at Timmins and District Hospital. It opened in March 2017 with the allocation of four rooms that can accommodate four patients at a time.

It is so well-equipped to accommodate families. It is amazing what they have done there. They have trained nurses there, and of course we always offer to pitch in for families.”

Petroski said it is important for a person to always be there for a client. She said with families becoming smaller, it is not always possible for family members to be at the bedside. She said that is when Horizon volunteers can help.

This was a dream come true to have the hospice in Timmins,” said Petroski. She said it followed years of lobbying and a feasibility study.

Oh we pushed. It was 10 years of pleading, and reports, and back and forth trying to get it. Finally, they (Ministry of Health) agreed,” she said.

So in no time at all, it was set up, and it is going so well,” she said.

So we will keep offering our service in the community, because there is still a need. We will remain as a presence in the community. We will be a positive sign of support for people. We will keep going so that nobody dies alone.”

Petroski said volunteers are always welcome. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer in palliative care or requiring more information contact Horizon-Timmins at 705-267-3434.

 

Filed in: Education, News

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