The Abbotsford Hospice Society plans to start an adult day program to support patients with a terminal illness and their caregivers. The program would operate out of Holmberg House. Abbotsford Hopsice Society photo

New hospice programs aim eyed for at-home patients and caregivers

Abbotsford Hospice Society set to launch day program for people living at home with terminal illness

Patients soon won’t need to be in a palliative care facility to receive many of the programs and activities available to residents of Holmberg House.

The Abbotsford Hospice Society is preparing to launch a new program aimed at people who have a terminal disease but continue to live at home, often with the assistance of caregivers.

“It’s quite simple: What we want to do is make available to the people living at home many of the same types of activities and services that we have available here at Holmberg House,” Ron Kuehl, the society’s executive director, said.

The society already provides care to patients both at Holmberg House and in hospital, and it runs grief and loss programs for loved ones, including children.

But with surveys showing the vast majority of Canadians would like to see out their lives in their own homes, the program aims to support both those people and the people caring for them. The new day program will launch later this fall and aims to offer such patients access to a range of therapies and activities, while also providing respite help for their caregivers.

The program, like many others at Holmberg House, will be operated with the help of volunteers, and thanks to significant donations from philanthropists. Activities will reflect both patients’ desires and interests and volunteers’ skillsets, Kuehl said.

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“It’s wide ranging and designed to make [patients’] lives move engaging,” Kuehl said.

“Although an individual is living with a life-limiting illness, we really focus on the quality of life and the quality of experiences they have and being able to live in community. That is a hallmark of the programs that we have established here and so we would hope that what we are able to do is to encourage the individual that life’s about living and living in the moment.”

Caregivers also need support, Kuehl noted. A recent report showed that such family members spend on average 58 hours a week on delivering care to their loved one. The program aims to both give caregivers a needed break, as well as access to therapy, training, and conversations with others going through the same situation.

“There are individuals within our community who have sacrificed an awful lot to be able to provide a level of care in the community.”

To start, the program will likely operate one day a week. Kuehl also said it can be scaled up as demand requires.

“We know that this will definitely be meeting a specific need in the community,” he said.

Cyndi McLeod has been hired to manage the new program, and more information will be released in the fall, with the plan to launch in November . The society will also be in need of more volunteers in order provide the program.

For more information, visit abbotsfordhospice.org or call 604-852-2456.


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