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Reflections on my Career – David Kennedy

We can not hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.

– Ben Sweetland
David Kennedy leaving Hospice Peterborough on his last day before retirement.

There are significant moments in everyone’s life where it isn’t until later you realize the mark they will leave on you.

My 13 years at Hospice Peterborough, as the first dedicated Grief and Bereavement Coordinator, were rich in such experiences. Hospice allowed me to live life meaningfully, fully and to embrace all of the emotions and experiences of the human condition.

While there are so many people who remain in my heart and memory, the ‘Fireside Chat’ group changed me forever. Within a three month span five couples came to Hospice – all mourning the recent death of a child. I didn’t go looking for this group, they found me.

It was clear what they needed was each other and so we formed the ’Fireside Chat’ group in the old Hospice library gathered around the fireplace. And so these people found each other, certainly not the way they wanted, but in a way that embraced a different beginning and found the strength to continue to make space for an absent child.

Over the years, the group grew with the help of an incredible volunteer, whose young son had died suddenly in an accident. She provided a beacon of hope, having a firsthand understanding of their anguish and their tears.

There were so many powerful moments that happened in that room, I can’t put into words the incredible life-changing impact each person had on me. Their courage and willingness to help each other was humbling. I’m grateful to the literally thousands of people who have enriched my life – each one is a gift.

As a small organization we were able to be nimble and innovative, because donors like you allowed us to support the greatest need – which remains just as true today.

Parents were helped to find ways to live again.

Grief is the struggle with the end – never seeing a person again, hearing their voice, and never getting the opportunity to experience those anticipated life milestones.

It is also the painful adjustment to walk on this new journey, which doesn’t mean forgetting someone, or ending the love. It is closing the physical relationship, and finding new ways to remember and honour a loved one in a way which adds meaning and comfort in their physical absence.

One parent summed it up best “Hospice doesn’t have all the answers, but it does have the tools, so that we can do the work to find our way through”. This is the gift of Hospice Peterborough – to listen, embrace and hold the pain, when there are no answers.

Over the years it has been my privilege – honestly – to sit with people in their grief.

Every person deserves to be listened to, acknowledged and honoured.

Death has no regard for age and I am deeply troubled by the significant increase in younger deaths due to overdose, cancer and suicide – leaving families dealing with traumatic and complicated grief. While we cannot take away the pain and sadness, we can be there to provide support and hope through incredibly difficult times – with your help.
It’s not telling people what to do or feel but rather a shared wisdom – every emotion valid and deserving of compassion – without judgement.

In the last 3 years my work at Hospice shifted to another innovative role as a Supportive Care Counsellor for the Palliative Community Care Team. A new position to support individuals and their families after receiving a terminal diagnosis.

Over the years I have watched Hospice Peterborough grow exponentially, serving hundreds if not thousands of individuals dealing with life and death. In my last full year in this position Hospice served 923 adults and 135 children and teens in supporting them in their grief.

It truly is your community hospice. While staff play a role it is donors, volunteers and our community who made this building possible and support this privileged work.

As a donor myself, I ask you to make your donation today to support individuals and their families who will seek help from Hospice Peterborough in the coming year.

All the best to you and yours,

David Kennedy

P.S. I haven’t completely retired from Hospice work, together with palliative and bereavement health care professionals Julie Brown, and Red Keating, we launched a podcast ‘What Now? On the threshold of life, death and grief.’ I invite you to listen to our free podcasts where we share our knowledge and experiences. Each episode is a conversation meant to enlighten and demystify the often difficult and emotional experiences of dying, death and bereavement.

Click image above to listen to ‘What Now? On the threshold of life, death and grief.’
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Caring in Life and Death

For 34 years Hospice Peterborough has demonstrated a collaborative community approach, strong leadership and good governance which has led the organization to become a respected leader in the delivery of hospice palliative and bereavement care across the province.

In 2016 when Medical Assistance in Dying legislation was introduced in Canada, Hospice Peterborough struck a committee to discuss how Hospice Peterborough would integrate the new legislation into our service. The committee included representation from clients, palliative physicians, Board of Directors and staff delivering community palliative programs. The committee determined that Hospice Peterborough will not stigmatize those who choose Medical Assistance in Dying, and that staff needed to follow the guidelines of the professional health colleges which allowed health professionals to talk about MAiD if the client introduced the topic and needed help to access more information.   

Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) established a very strong program to support people who were at the end-of-life and their families in exploring and choosing to enact MAiD. Their program included education and support for the front line health care staff involved in providing MAiD and an effective booklet developed in clear, non-partisan language to describe MAiD. As a small community organization just starting to offer 24/7 care in 2019, developing or offering a MAiD program at the Hospice Residence was beyond Hospice Peterborough’s capacity.  For those interested in MAiD we work with PRHC to ensure people had access to MAiD if desired, Hospice Peterborough continues to impartially support clients and residents who wished to consider MAiD by answering questions and in helping them to navigate their choice.

In 2021, as a result of community, staff, volunteer and board consultations for the 2021-2025 Hospice Peterborough Strategic Plan – it was determined that there was a need to reinvestigate and possibly redefine Hospice Peterborough’s position on MAiD in our 10 bed hospice residence. A MAiD working group was established by the Board to coordinate an internal process to review MAiD. This extensive process included staff and Board education and focus groups, while considering feedback from the community and the review of provincial and national standards and directions from palliative care organizations including the Ontario Palliative Care Network, Hospice Palliative Care Ontario and the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association.

As the result of this extensive process, Hospice Peterborough Board of Directors have issued the following directive at their last board meeting:

“The Board of Hospice Peterborough respects and supports a person’s choice for medical assistance in dying. Therefore, the Board requests the creation of an operational plan for medical assistance in dying at Hospice Peterborough. “

Currently the operational plan is being developed in conjunction with our community partners. The Board will share more information when the operational plan is available.

For further information contact:

Hajni Hos, Executive Director
hhos@hospicepeterborough.org    

Len Lifchus, Board Chair
boardchair@hospicepeterborough.org

Hospice Peterborough
325 London Street
Peterborough, Ontario K9H 2Z5
705-742-4042  

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$10,000 Donation from Norwood Masons

After closing the doors of the historic Norwood Masonic Lodge, members have donated $10,000 to Hospice Peterborough from the sale of the building.

“We are incredibly touched that Norwood Masons have thought of Hospice Peterborough at this time and thank them for this meaningful gift,” says Hospice Peterborough Executive Director Hajni Hős. “We will ensure this gift is used to provide our accredited palliative and bereavement services to local residents in need and we will honor the Norwood Masons for their incredible generosity on our Donor Wall.”

From left, Aimée O’Reilly, Hospice Peterborough Communications and Fundraising Coordinator; Norwood Masons Senior Member Doug Pearcy; Norwood Masons Secretary Keith Buchanan; Hospice Peterborough Executive Director Hajni Hős; and Norwood Masons Past Master Nigel McArthur during the June 14 cheque presentation.

The historic lodge has existed since 1870 and was housed in a former Pentecostal church. The Norwood Masons purchased the building about 40 years ago and turned it into a lodge where the membership would hold meetings and gatherings, says senior member Doug Pearcy.

Since the start of the pandemic, Mr. Pearcy says, the building has been largely vacant and it became unfeasible to maintain so the membership made the difficult decision to sell in October 2021. Under the group’s charter, all proceeds must be used for charitable purposes and the Masons are also donating to other local non-profits including Brock Mission, Crossroads Women’s Shelter, the Peterborough Regional Health Centre, the Peterborough Humane Society, the New Canadians Centre, Hospice Norwood, local food banks, the Five Counties Children’s Centre, Campbellford Memorial Hospital and The Bridge Hospice in Warkworth.

“The legacy of the Norwood Masons will live on through these gifts that we hope will continue to improve our local communities,” Mr. Pearcy says. “We are glad we can contribute to the good work of Hospice Peterborough in helping so many people through life-threatening illness and end-of-life care.”

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COVID-19 Protection Protocols, Including Masks, Remain in Place at Hospice Peterborough

While at midnight on Saturday, June 11 the last of the Ontario mask mandates are set to expire, many healthcare settings in the province will continue to require masking in their facilities. 

Upon review by our Outbreak Management Team, and in alignment with current public health guidance and our partners at PRHC, Hospice Peterborough will be continuing with the current protocols that are in place. These include donning a new medical mask upon entry (provided by Hospice Peterborough), screening at the front desk and enhanced cleaning and infection-control measures. Rapid Antigen Tests continue to be available for those who choose to be tested.

As a high risk setting, we have a responsibility to provide a safe care environment and we know that masks are one of the most effective ways to do so.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we continue to strive to provide compassionate, quality, and safe care to those at the end of life, those living with a life-threatening illness, and those who are bereaved and grieving.

We will continue to monitor any changes and will communicate in a timely manner. With questions or for clarification, please reach out to Executive Director Hajni Hős hhos@hospicepeterborough.org or 705-742-4042.

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A ‘Special and Caring Place’ Where Volunteers Stay Engaged

Hospice Peterborough highlights responses for annual volunteer survey during National Volunteer Week April 24-30

Our volunteers are amazing.

Despite the pandemic forcing many volunteers to stay home and away from the Hospice Peterborough building, many have continued to stay engaged because they believe so strongly in our mission of enhancing the comfort, dignity and quality of life of individuals and families living with or affected by life-threatening illness or grief.

We thank those who recently took the time to complete our annual volunteer survey, which was completed at the end of March and provides valuable input that we take into consideration in day-to-day decision making and program development.

Volunteers Joyce and Laurie stand with Hospice Peterborough staff Sharon Cupples and Carolyn Parkes during National Volunteer Week.

“As it’s National Volunteer Week, we thought there was no better time to share some highlights from the survey results and, once again, thank our wonderful volunteers for continuing to be the heart of Hospice,” says Carolyn Parkes, Volunteer Services Lead at Hospice Peterborough. 

Throughout the pandemic, volunteers have engaged both virtually and, when restrictions permitted, in-person such as greeting visitors at the reception desk or offering friendly bedside visits in the Residence. Volunteers have also supported clients by phone and with client and bereavement groups that have been meeting virtually.

Organizationally, volunteers have kept Hospice running by serving on the Board and committees as well as helping with tasks such as weeding and watering our gardens, trainings and meetings. Many have also continued to help Hospice fundraise by participating in the Hike Your Way event and by talking about Hospice to friends and neighbours who in turn donated to Hospice.

Through the survey we learned that almost all respondents (95%) felt Hospice Peterborough continued to engage and support them throughout the pandemic through various methods including the Highlighter newsletter, emails, podcasts, Mindful Nourishment meditation, social media and online meetings.

One volunteer stated, “(I) so very much appreciate the support of my Hospice family.”

When asked how satisfied they were with their experience at Hospice before and during COVID, comments included feelings of being ‘well-oriented’ and ‘welcomed,’ while calling Hospice Peterborough a ‘special and caring place.’

One volunteer went as far as to say: “Most valuable volunteer opportunity I have ever had.’

Thanks to all Hospice our amazing volunteers, past and present; we truly couldn’t do it without you.

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Summer Sips

We are thrilled to finally be able to invite you for an evening in beautiful Bailieboro at Rolling Grape Vineyard.

We hope you can join us for dinner, drinks, and live music.

Thursday June 2nd, 2022 | 6pm – 9pm
Rolling Grape Vineyard
260 County Rd 2 Bailieboro ON
Tickets $80 – includes a $35 tax receipt

Limited Tickets!
We can’t wait to see you there!

All Public Health recommendations will be adhered to.
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Volunteering in End-of-Life Programs a ‘Profound’ Experience

During National Volunteer Week (April 24 to 30), Gisele Lalonde – one of hundreds of our cherished volunteers – discusses the impact of supporting local women in their palliative journeys

When Gisele Lalonde started volunteering with Hospice Peterborough more than a decade ago, she thought that her role in supporting local women through their palliative journeys would be primarily one of giving her time and energy. Little did she know that she would receive so much.

Gisele Lalonde

Gisele says that whether she is sitting at a client’s bedside, serving lunch at the Day Hospice program or offering meditation to program participants over Zoom, she often finds that these unique opportunities encourage her to be more present in her own life.

“It has slowed me down and made me more appreciative of every day,” she says. “It’s hard to describe, and there may be no English word for it, but it feels like my experience with Hospice Peterborough has expanded my awareness of living, ageing, grief and joy. It has certainly made life more poignant.”

Gisele is one of hundreds of Hospice Peterborough volunteers who support our mission of enhancing the comfort, dignity and quality of life of people living with or affected by life-threatening illness or grief. During National Volunteer Week, April 24-30, Hospice Peterborough is sending a special thank-you to each and every one of our volunteers.

For Gisele, the experience over the years has been profound and, to her, the Hospice Community has become a vital and valued connection.  

The retired Community Development Worker says she first started volunteering with the Client Support Program, where she met with local women in their homes to listen to their stories throughout their end-of-life journey. She also met with family members and caregivers who appreciated the respite that the Hospice program provided.

Currently, she volunteers with the Day Hospice Women’s Group, led by a staff member. Prior to COVID she met with the women in person at the Hospice building and also helped serving lunch. The meetings could be intense and emotional, she says, but could also be full of joy and laughter.

During the first wave of COVID, she thought her volunteer days might be over but was amazed at how quickly Hospice Peterborough pivoted the women’s group to a virtual platform, allowing for continued connection and support.

“It is such a privilege to continue to bear witness to their journey and also participate in the happiness of good news such as positive test results, a trip, or a new grandchild,” she says. “The meetings are peppered with every emotion: laughter, grief, anger, frustration, love and joy. I feel ‘full’ to be a part of it all”

Gisele continues to offer a meditation to open the Zoom meetings, provides updates to the group and supports special events such as crafting together online during the holidays.  

When the pandemic ends, she’d like to further support Hospice by possibly becoming a Grief Companion.

While Hospice Peterborough thanks her and all volunteers for their vital support, Gisele says she is the one who is thankful. “I feel so fortunate,” she says, “to be a part of an organization that offers such a caring and supportive environment.”

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Volunteers Wanted!

We are looking for Client Support Volunteers to join our team!

Graduating Volunteer Training class of Fall 2021

We are excited to announce dates for the mandatory 30 hours volunteer training, running 10 weeks in the evening starting April 12th. This training will take place in-person.
Information/orientation sessions will take March 22nd at 6:30pm via Zoom and March 29th at 6:30 in-person. Please register for one of these sessions by calling Carolyn at 705-742-4042 or emailing cparkes@hospicepeterborough.org.

We are so thrilled to be able to welcome new volunteers!