Anne Venneman hosted her 80thbirthday party two days after she left herfarm and moved into a hospice. Thirty ofAnne’s friends and relatives packed intoher new apartment, one of two hospicesuites at Sunrise Encore, an assisted-living facility in Olds.
“It was crowded,” says Heather
Venneman, Anne’s daughter-in-law. “It
meant a lot for us to gather and celebrate
her life, her birthday.”
Sunrise Encore’s hospice suites were
created and are run by the Olds and
District Hospice Society. The volunteer-
run society turns 10 this October and
has helped more than 200 families with
palliative and end-of-life care.
Albertans have varying degrees of
access to palliative and end-of-life care
and resources. Some people with life-
limiting illnesses leave their towns and
smaller cities to receive palliative care in
bigger cities. This can make it harder for
friends and family to visit.
Alberta Health Services recentlypublished A Resource Guide forCommunity Development of Palliativeand End-of-life Care within Alberta.
“It’s about how to build compassionatecommunities and how communitiescan build some of their own capacityfor palliative and end-of-life care,”says Michelle Peterson Fraser, seniorconsultant with AHS’s Palliative andEnd-of-Life Care provincial team. Theguide includes topics such as how to getstarted, how to access existing palliativeand end-of-life care community servicesand how to fundraise.
A compassionate community supports
people with life-limiting conditions and
their families so they can stay at home,
or close to home, surrounded by loved
ones. Sometimes this means helping
with groceries or shovelling the walk.
Or it can mean training volunteers in
bereavement counselling. Or it can mean
creating a hospice.
The Olds and District HospiceSociety gave the Vennemans the spaceand support needed to make the mostof the time Anne had left. She diedfive days after her birthday party inJanuary 2017.
“Having the hospice and that quietenvironment, and yet knowing wewere supported by the staff theregave us the ability to just be a family,”Heather says. “It was like when astar is dying—it compresses its energyon itself. Our world compressed intothat space and Anne was the centre ofthat world.” |a
For more information, see the directoryon page 46A.
Supporting people at the end of life
WRITTEN BY DOUG HORNERILLUSTRATED BY JASON LINAHS is helping communities support people with life-limiting conditions to stay at home, or close to home.