TR Hospice and Palliative Care Society

All great stories worth telling usually have a great beginning, and the story of the Tumbler Ridge Hospice and Palliative Care Society is no different ? it too has a great beginning.

The society got its start not long ago from an address to a local committee. On October 22, 2003, Linda LaFleur, coordinator of the South Peace Hospice and Palliative Care Society, gave an address to the Tumbler Ridge Umbrella Committee. Doug Foerster, then President of 49 Forever, asked LaFleur if she could also give this address to 49 Forever. During the address to this group, Foerster proposed that 49 Forever sponsor an initiative to develop a Tumbler Ridge Hospice and Palliative Care Society, and start-up funds were collected to cover the registration costs for the society. ?Sixty-eight members and non-members alike were very keen on this idea and within 14 days, LaFleur had facilitated a 2-day workshop on palliative care for 32 participants,? said Foerster. During the workshop, participants expressed an interest in providing grief support as well as palliative care. ?This further interest resulted in Joanne Bibby, a resident of Tumbler Ridge, holding a series of grief support workshops for 16 participants,? said Foerster.

Although the society is still in the process of registering with the BC Society Act, it has already received approval for its name but approval of its registration isn?t expected until late April. After the society receives approval for registration, it will then make application for tax exemption status.

The inaugural Board of Directors for the TRHPCS has already been selected. The incumbents are:

?President – Doug Foerster

?Vice President – Pat Kelly

?Secretary-Treasurer – Eleanor McNeil

?Director and Head of the Hospice & Palliative Care Coordinating Committee – Ann Jewra

?Director and Head of the Grief Support Coordinating Committee – Joanne Bibby

?Director – Mary Buist, 49 Forever

A provision for a director appointed from the community has been made and a non-voting Advisory Board will be set up to include directors appointed from the ministerial, medical, and home nursing fields.

Not to be confused with any other organizations that provide similar services, the TRHPCS is a society governed by the BC Society Act. ?Although the Board of Directors of the TRHPCS is interested in assisting in endeavors that benefit the community, the society is a ?stand-alone? organization that can only take direction from its board,? said Foerster.

As a newly formed society, fundraising initiatives are currently being developed to provide start-up funds as well as operational funds. To date, enough funds have been raised to cover the cost of registering the society and providing insurance for the volunteers but more funds are needed. One of the first fundraising initiatives is to offer two types of annual memberships; a volunteer membership for $10.00 and a supporting membership for non-volunteers for $20.00. ?As soon as the society has been set up and running for a period of time, we will have a better idea of what our yearly operational costs will entail,? said Foerster.

The society?s initial plans call for the provision of hospice and palliative care services to home-bound patients, which will include providing relief to family members on ?watch?, and grief support services to the patient?s family members. ?Typically, a hospice and palliative care society is a facility that may also house patients but the TRHPCS does not have the capital or undertaking required to build or acquire such a facility at this time. However, if demand for services in the future make it feasible to build or acquire a facility, then the society will look into it. Government and municipal grants, donations, and bequests, are some of the options we would look at,? said Foerster.

Patients who have been diagnosed as either critically or terminally ill are eligible for services provided by the society. ?After a patient has been diagnosed as critically or terminally ill by a medical doctor or other licensed medical consultant, the patient?s doctor or consultant will then provide that patient with a referral to the society. The society?s Volunteer Coordinator will then match a volunteer to that patient,? said Foerster.

Two coordinating committees will be responsible for administering the society?s services. The Palliative Care Coordinating Committee, comprised of four society members, will accept and review applications for service and match patients with volunteers based on the patient?s needs and the volunteer?s capabilities. The Grief Support Coordinating Committee can provide grief support services to a palliative care patient?s family, before, during, and after the patient?s palliative care requirements. The committee might also provide grief support services to individuals or families who experience a loss or a tragedy.

The society will be 100% volunteer-run with the role of the volunteer being restricted to providing services to the patient in the form of emotional support with no physical or medical applications provided. To meet government legislation, all volunteers will be subject to a mandatory criminal back-ground check conducted by the RCMP and must sign a confidentiality agreement. All volunteers will receive the required training before being matched with a patient. ?Volunteers will be required to attend the appropriate workshops. The workshops are designed so that volunteers learn to provide both palliative and grief support care that is non-confrontational, non-political, and non-religious. Grief support workshops will be held in Tumbler Ridge on an on-going basis as new volunteers join the society and palliative care workshops will be held in Dawson Creek based on minimum participation levels,? said Foerster.

The TRHPCS has been welcomed with very open arms by the residents of Tumbler Ridge. ?We have received an overwhelmingly positive response from the community, and our initiative is even making waves in other communities as well. We credit this response to the good citizens of Tumbler Ridge and to Linda LaFleur for her outstanding skills as an educator,? said Foerster. The society is expected to provide much needed services to many residents on a long-term basis.

If you are interested in becoming a member or a volunteer for the TRHPCS, please call either Doug Foerster at 242-5870, Ann Jewra at 242-5000, or Joanne Bibby at 242-2007. Membership cheques should be made payable to The Tumbler Ridge Hospice and Palliative Care Society and mailed to PO Box 1861, Tumbler Ridge, BC, V0C 2W0.