Talking openly and sharing our thoughts and feelings helps in every aspect of life, but perhaps never more so than when confronting the end of life. By speaking frankly about dying, we can help those who are currently facing it focus on the important things.
You can go to Hospice and still have hope—in fact, this is something that people need to know.
“You don’t go to Hospice to die, you go to finish LIVING!” says CherieAnne, a Hospice patient.
Hospice Huronia’s Tomkins House is a five-bed hospice home that opened in 2020. Staff and volunteers there have already cared for more than 250 patients, met several amazing families and witnessed many beautiful moments.
This past year, for example, one of their patients shared that she had bought tickets to a Rod Stewart concert; when Covid hit, it was cancelled. She then received a cancer diagnosis, and her life was forever changed.
Her family had been caring for her at home but began to find that doing this was becoming more difficult. Hospice became an option. While she had originally planned to stay only a short time just to give her husband some rest and help manage her pain and symptoms, it soon became clear that Tomkins House would be her final home.
“We knew how important this concert was to her, so we put out a post on social media and before we knew it people from all over were calling to help. It was a magical night for her and for our Hospice team who try each day to provide comfort so that our patients can enjoy every moment of life,” says Donna Macfarlane, Chair of the Board.
Debbie Kesheshian, Executive Director, agrees. “Each person is so unique, and we try hard to make Tomkins House as homelike as possible. Volunteers in our kitchen make comfort foods for patients and families, cooking up wonderful soups and baked goods, as we focus on medical care along with a group of local palliative care doctors. Not everyone wants to see a rock concert, but most want to visit with family and friends, listen to music or watch their favourite shows.”
“Most of our patients come to us worrying about pain or if they will suffer and our job is to show them that a good death is possible. It’s also normal to worry about those they are leaving behind and it helps when we tell them about our grief programs and assure them that at Hospice, we wrap loving arms around their family during this very difficult time. It’s important work and we can’t do it without you,” she says.
“People need to know that you come here to finish living your life in comfort,” says Kesheshian. “You can make the most of the time you have, knowing you’ll have any pain controlled and your family will be supported.”
If you can’t be at home at the end of your life, Tomkins House is the place you’d want to be. It is both a resource for people who are facing end of life issues with family members and a source of comfort for those who are grieving and need bereavement support.
Services are available at no cost, thanks to a combination of funding from the provincial government (less than 50%) and private and corporate donations, community-organized fundraising events, and the charity’s own fundraising events and grants.
Patients are admitted based on need and a variety of factors are taken into consideration, including current care, diagnosis, pain control, symptoms and bed availability.
Work in the community
It can be difficult to help people understand what services a Hospice provides because it is such a personal and intimate time in peoples’ lives, yet they can indeed help in a variety of ways.
It’s also important to note that not all of the work they do takes place at Tomkins House; Hospice Huronia is also quite active in the larger community with visiting hospice volunteers and bereavement support.
For example, one client who attends a grief group said, “I thought Hospice was about dying, but they actually saved my life. I couldn’t get out of bed, but the Hospice Volunteer and the other members of the group helped me realize that I was not alone and all the things I was feeling were normal. I don’t know where I’d be without this free service.”
Donations are essential for the Hospice to operate. Donations provide the food in their kitchen, the linens for their beds, training for their volunteers and all of the other costs associated with operating a Hospice Home 24/7, 365 days a year.
Donors report that they are grateful because Hospice staff and volunteers cared for or supported a friend or family member. Others like the fact that their money stays right here in North Simcoe.
“When you donate to Hospice Huronia - Tomkins House, it’s like having you right there at the bedside. You are part of our Tomkins House Family,” says Kesheshian.
Anyone can refer someone to Hospice Huronia (with the consent of the person being referred) and anyone can refer themselves. Clients, patients and caregivers can also work with their doctors or Home & Community Care. Simply call their office at 705-549-1034 or email [email protected].
Hospice Huronia needs the support of the community to care for patients and families who are facing life-limiting illness and who are grieving. Making a donation provides care for your neighbours, friends and family.