With Canada’s quickly aging population, the Cochrane Seniors Advisory board is inviting seniors and concerned residents to start a discussion about end-of-life care in the community.
“There have been issues that have come up, mostly seniors driving back and forth to visit their loved ones in Calgary,” said Della Robertson, chair of the committee.
“When you move out of a community at the end of life, you are taking people away from the support and care of their loved ones.”
Cochrane currently has three seniors livings facilities – the Bethany Care Centre, the Evergreen Manor and the Big Hill Lodge– and another three set to open in the next couple of years. None of the facilities have allocated hospice beds.
Bethany Care Centre officials did say earlier this year that hospice care was “on the radar” pending government funding but nothing has been announced.
“Details of the budget are still being revealed,” Cam Westhead, Banff-Cochrane MLA said, noting he is “keen” on working with groups advocating for end-of-life care.
In the meantime, the Cochrane Seniors Advisory board has partnered with the Palliative Care Society of the Bow Valley and Alberta Health Services to start discussions about the issues about current and future palliative care needs.
Cochrane resident author Rick Bergh said when his wife, Pam, was diagnosed with terminal cancer the family made the decision to keep her at home and take care of her during her final days, but acknowledged that not every family has that option.
“With palliative care, there is the medical part but the most significant part is how you engage the family and for us it was amazing and changed our lives,” Bergh said.
Bergh’s wife died at home in July in 2008.
“I’m not saying it wasn’t tiring but why wouldn’t I want to do the best I can to honour my wife’s dying.”
The first community discussion, inviting stories from residents was hosted last Wednesday with attendees listing a number of issues including lack of nearby palliative care options and finances.
“Rural areas are in a bad way that we don’t get enough attention – we are in catch-up mode,” one of the senior’s who attended the discussion commented.
Robertson said potential solutions are expansions to homecare, more respite resources for families taking care of people at home, and more education and support to families and friends.
The group will be hosting another open discussion at the Family and Community Services Centre, on May 1 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Homestead building, located at 209 Second Ave.
“We are trying to get the community’s perspective,” Robertson said.
There is no fee to attend. To register, call organizers at 403-851-2250.