DIDSBURY - The Olds & District Hospice Society has updated council on some of the organization’s recent activities and plans, including work to bring a hospice suite to Didsbury.
Mary Hatcher, vice-president of the Hike for Hospice event with the society, appeared as a delegation before council on May 9.
She explained that hospice care is care that focuses on the palliation of a terminally ill person’s pain and symptoms and supports their emotional and spiritual needs at the end of life.
“Hospice care prioritizes comfort and quality of life by reducing pain and suffering,” she said, noting support is also given to family members.
About 14 years ago people first got together to talk about the need for better hospice care in Olds, she said.
“We have grown a lot since those early days,” she said.
The society supports palliative care across Mountain View County, she said, including the urban centres within its geographical boundaries and beyond.
The full cost of the two hospice suites in Seasons Olds Encore facility is covered by the society, she said.
“This includes the monthly rent of $3,600 per suites, as well as furniture. Direct care is provided by Seasons Encore staff and by the local homecare palliative care team, both funded by the AHS central zone,” she said.
Occupancy rates at the two hospice suites moved from 40 per cent in 2019-2022 to 95 per cent with a waiting list in 2023.
The society is currently working with the AHS and Bethany Didsbury.
“Fingers tightly crossed we will have a hospice suite here in Didsbury in the next 12 months or so,” she said.
The society has started a drop-in program providing anyone in the need with additional support, she said.
“That has been very well received,” she said.
The society raises funds through the Hike for Hospice annual event, including in Didsbury for the first time this year, as well as through donations from corporations and individuals.
The Hike for Hospice event is supported by Girl Guides, the Mountain View Colts and others.
“This our main, big fundraising event,” she said.
The society is in the process of finding a new name, she said.
“We have outgrown the name of Olds & District Hospice Society,” she said. “Later this year we will be looking at suggestions and input from our community, families, and volunteers.
“What name would fit us best as we continue to grow and develop services all across the county and beyond.”
Hatcher suggested a Didsbury town councillor may want to join the society’s board.
“It would be quite wonderful and really a way of engaging the community to have one of you step up and say I’d look forward to joining the hospice as we move forward and make these changes embracing the whole area that we care for,” she said.
The society is developing a new website, she said.
Mayor Rhonda Hunter called the society a valued community organization.
“Thank you for all you do for people and the community,” Hunter said.
Council accepted Hatcher’s report as information.