This month, the Airdrie & District Hospice Society (ADHS) is celebrating its first decade of providing compassionate care and comfort for those experiencing life-limiting illnesses.
ADHS' milestone 10-year anniversary will be recognized at the society’s annual general meeting on June 14, which will be held virtually over Zoom to comply with current public health restrictions.
According to Lise Blanchette, the executive director of ADHS, the board plans to commemorate the advancement of the society since its early days with photographs and a timeline during the virtual meeting.
The meeting will also look at some of the recent program developments and fundraising efforts launched by the society, she said.
“We’re working on the solution to improve everybody’s quality of life and launching programs…to create awareness and comfort for people to start talking about end-of-life,” she said. “People don’t want to talk about it; however, death is normal and we need to recognize it.”
The charitable organization was established in 2011 after a group of individuals from the community recognized a need for palliative care in Airdrie and the surrounding area. The society was born out of a collective desire to improve support for families and individuals going through the end-of-life process.
Blanchette said these individuals believed there was more to a hospice than a brick-and-mortar location. She added they wanted to build community solutions and improve quality of life for those in need, in whatever capacity they could.
“Their vision was that no one dies alone,” she said.
The newfound society’s members soon elected their first board, held a strategic planning session, and in 2012, received their first official donation as a charitable organization from the Catholic Women’s League. Since then, the society has led fundraising initiatives such as the annual Hike for Hospice, community education programs and focus groups.
ADHS has also provided free services to palliative patients and families in Airdrie and the surrounding communities, respite care for caregivers, and grief support to people from all walks of life through its Compassionate Care Fund.
In recent years, Blanchette said a redeveloped website has helped the society spread the word about its mission to keep Airdrie and area palliative care clients close to home. She added that over the years, the society has received support from various community groups such as the Rotary Club of Airdrie and Airdrie Festival of Lights Society.
“I think we’re doing our best because like the original group said, ‘There’s more to hospice than brick-and-mortar,’” she said. “I think the more we do in the community, the more awareness that will create, then it will become normal."
Blanchette said looking toward the future, she hopes to see the society partner with other community groups to provide hospice beds close to home.
“I see that in our big dream,” she said. “I would love to have some actual beds because it’s what the community wants. Statistics do show that and I think it’s a possibility to partner with somebody, [and make use of] a building that’s already here.”
She added the society spends an average of $6,000 a year to help community members pay for end-of-life care and related expenses.
A new initiative called Nav Care will help palliative patients navigate the health-care system, help them find information and direct them to services available to them in Airdrie and the surrounding area. According to Blanchette, Nav Care will also refer them to resources outside of the community for further support if required.
She added the current board is passionate about furthering the initial group’s goal that no one should die alone, and that the programs developed over recent years have been impactful in furthering that mission.
If you would like to observe ADHS’ annual general meeting on June 14, details can be found at airdriehospice.ca/events
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