Hospice aims to extend reach

Planning is in early stages, but organizers at the Penticton and District Hospice Society are hoping to reach out by creating a more accessible bereavement resource centre as way to augment the services provided by the hospice house.

David Head of the Penticton and District Hospice Society is hoping to create a more accessible bereavement resource centre.

David Head of the Penticton and District Hospice Society is hoping to create a more accessible bereavement resource centre.

Planning is in early stages, but organizers at the Penticton and District Hospice Society are hoping to reach out by creating a more accessible bereavement resource centre as way to augment the services provided by the hospice house.

According to David Head, vice-chair of the society, the centre would be a place for people to find help dealing with bereavement, grief and other end of life issues, but at a separate location from the Moog & Friends Hospice House.

That separation, he said, would also be part of making the centre more accessible,

“If you think about it, if you have been to the hospice with a loved one and they have passed away, do you really want to go back there?” said Head. “You need help with the grief and dealing with the issues and it may be four, five months later. And then you are not wanting to go back there.”

There are also others who need assistance with the grieving process, whose loved ones perhaps died at home or elsewhere, but have never been to the hospice.

“Or maybe you just got a diagnosis of terminal cancer and you have to deal with that. The hospice is not an obvious spot where you would go in all cases,” said Head. “We have a very strong volunteer component in the hospice and we would like to get out and offer service for people that don’t go to the hospice but are sick at home. We want to expand out into the community.”

There are places that offer some bereavement services, according to Head, but it is scattered and unorganized, ranging from places like funeral homes to Interior Health social workers, as well as the hospice house itself.

“There is some access out there, but it is pretty spotty,” said Head, explaining that the proposed bereavement centre would be staffed by volunteers from the hospice society. “It wouldn’t be directly related to people who work for Interior Health, for example. We would be working closely with Interior Health but this would be, typically, volunteers and employees of the hospice society.”

The centre also wouldn’t likely have a counsellor or similar professional as a staff member, Head said.

“What we would probably do is have offices available for them so they can come on a part-time basis. It’s unlikely we would need them on a full-time basis, but you could say that the psychiatrist will be in on Friday mornings, something like that,” he said. “Professional services are definitely needed and we would try and find some people to do that and make some space available to them.”

They society hasn’t determined any possible locations yet, but Head said downtown Penticton or someplace with similar access would be considered.

“We want to be in a place where it is easy for people to get at,” he said.

“There are a lot of people that live in those condos downtown. And it’s a place that you can get at with lots of parking, and bus routes — you look for something that has that kind of access. I am not saying that downtown is the place, but that would be a good possibility.”