GOODWILL: Carpenter Hospice

Palliative care has captured the attention of the nation. No longer a taboo subject, death or long term illness is a matter the aging population is beginning to look at. Quality of life is being honoured, increasing the need for hospice and palliative care facilities, programs and services.

While the majority of people in Ontario may wish to die at home, the number of people requiring end-of-life care is growing. With an emphasis on living rather than dying, Burlington's Carpenter Hospice addresses all needs and aspects of the process including the time from the life-limiting diagnosis through to bereavement.

Carpenter Hospice has been an integral part of Burlington since 2002.  Offering free residence and outpatient care, their commitment is to provide support services for those going through the life transition by “making moments matter.” Theirs is an approach to palliative care that reflects the hospice philosophy through comprehensive and compassionate programs for not only residents but their families. This methodology focuses on all aspects of a patient's life and well-being: physical, social, emotional, and spiritual.

With more than 30 years in the health care field, Karen Candy, executive director, joined Carpenter Hospice three years ago. Though a job by definition, Candy believes that aside from her family this is the most important thing she has ever done. “I cannot praise the community enough,” she explains. “It is due to their generosity that we have been able to raise the $1.3 million we require annually.” Though partially government funded, Carpenter Hospice otherwise relies wholly on third party events and their own fundraising.

The coming bump of baby-boomers promises a demographic that will change the way we deal with a life limiting diagnosis. Because of this rapid growth it is imperative that hospice and palliative care gets the attention it deserves. “We try to meet the growing demand in our bereavement and outreach programs but we simply need more room,” says Candy. Currently housing 10 residential rooms, the “Making Room” project is the much-anticipated expansion and  renovation of  Carpenter Hospice. To promote this cause, the gala fundraising event Hearts and Hardhats will be held on February 11 at the Burlington Convention Centre. 

Carpenter Hospice is free. It costs nothing to be a participant. “Money does not enter into the equation,” says Candy. “When you walk in you feel like being at home. Our staff and volunteers are the most compassionate people I have ever met. What we do is bring you in and love you out of this world.” 

One such compassionate volunteer is Denis Charette. Since 2012 he has volunteered weekly within four different areas of the hospice. Having experienced loss first hand, Charette believes dying is a part of living. “I became very aware of the support people needed in not fearing death.”

Assisting with daily hospital operations, volunteers are an integral part of the hospice team. Charette prefers working in the kitchen as resident's families are often present. “I am here to assist them with what they need to go through. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing their relief …knowing their loved one is getting the care they could not
provide 24/7.”

The spectrum of hospice and palliative care is broad. Services such as in-home visiting, support groups, wellness programs and bereavement support all help make the death experience less scary. It is more in keeping with the client and their family's wishes and focuses on comfort, reduced suffering, and improving quality of life.  People need to be open to discussion, and knowledge is key.

“Burlington is a compassionate city creating awareness about a compassionate place,” says Charette.  “We are an example of how to take care of others in times of crisis and loss. It can be the simple things…such as myself baking up a storm on my shift. I feel if the residents can smell the aroma of cookies baking in the oven, this is going to make them feel like being at home.”

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