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Unconditional Support, Advice and Camaraderie in Face of Terminal Illness

Chrystine Somerville shares her experience of the women’s support group and says the Hospice Peterborough program has been a ‘godsend’

After being diagnosed with cancer and moving with her husband to Young’s Point for retirement, Chrystine Somerville knew very few people, didn’t know the area and had little knowledge about what local health supports were available, especially in the middle of a pandemic.

When she heard that Hospice Peterborough was offering a virtual women’s support group, for those with a terminal illness, she decided to give it a try and says she knew from the very first minute of the meeting that she had found “the right place to be.”

“This group has been a godsend,” says the 56-year-old. “The support, the laughter, the suggestions, the encouragement, the camaraderie, the understanding, the heartfelt empathy and so on that is the makeup of our group, is a lifeline in a sometimes confusing, often raging storm called cancer. I am beyond grateful for having been accepted into this group and supported by these wonderful women.”

Known as Day Hospice, this program offers a professional facilitator to guide women’s and men’s groups through the journey of living with a terminal diagnosis. It is often a lifeline for participants by offering support, advocacy and healthcare navigation services during what can be the participants’ most difficult stage of life. The group often opens with a guided meditation and then offers the chance to share updates, ask for advice or simply sit and listen. Participants often brainstorm about how others manage their illness, medication, family issues, physical and emotional pain and COVID-19, all while supporting each other.

Clients learn from each other, support each other and also learn new and practical methods of coping with their illness including self-care, dietary needs and managing anxiety.

Chrystine Somerville

For the past nine years, Kawartha Credit Union has generously funded Day Hospice and, like all of Hospice’s programs and services, there is never a fee for participants to join.

Before COVID-19, the groups used to meet in person once per week, followed by a shared lunch. As of March 2020, however, Hospice Peterborough immediately pivoted to a Zoom platform – never missing a weekly session – to continue supporting clients at a time when traditional support from family and friends has been severely limited.

For people like Chrystine, that means that throughout an unprecedented time of isolation and social distancing, she has made friends, felt supported and learned more about her medical condition, all without ever setting foot in the Hospice Peterborough building.

“I’d still like to get in there one day!” she says with a laugh.

Chrystine says the most important thing to know is that the groups are far from “doom and gloom.” While all participants understand the realities of each other’s conditions and often lean on each other in times of sadness, she says the energy is one of “loving and caring” with room for laughter, jokes, hopeful stories, family news and, perhaps most importantly, unconditional support with no judgement.

As COVID-19 restrictions ease, she and other participants have been able to safely meet outside of the group for lunch and small social gatherings.

“Having said that, it’s not a coffee club,” Chrystine adds. “We are all dealing with a terminal illness and it’s very comforting to be able to be there for one another unconditionally.”

Chrystine says she’s thankful for the program, which can also direct participants to other Hospice programs and services such as a supportive care counsellor. She’s also overwhelmed that this service has no fee, thanks to generous community donations from businesses such as the Kawartha Credit Union as well as individuals.

“I am just so grateful,” she says. “Hospice Peterborough is on my gratitude list every day.”

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Updated COVID Response Based on New Public Health Directives

Based on new instructions from Peterborough Public Health, Hospice Peterborough is immediately instituting new COVID-19 protocols to keep our clients, families, staff and volunteers safe.

All non-essential staff will return to working remotely. Group bereavement and palliative programs will continue but will be held virtually. The palliative care community team will continue to see people either in person or via phone sessions, at their discretion.  

Our residence will continue to function at 10-bed capacity but this could change at any time. Visitors will be limited to 2 or 3 at a time. Sadly, family gatherings in the building can not happen until Peterborough Public Health lifts current guidelines.

Likewise, our committed volunteers will be asked to take a break from duties at our London Street location until it’s safe to resume and staff will assume reception responsibilities. Their help and presence will be greatly missed and we hope to have volunteers back working with us soon.

Everyone entering the building will continue to be required to wear a fresh medical-grade mask, provided by Hospice Peterborough, and show proof of a second vaccine dose. For those unvaccinated, Hospice Peterborough requires an on-site rapid-antigen test. Further protocols may be announced in coming days. 

Hospice Peterborough continues to monitor all new and emerging pandemic information daily while our Outbreak Management Team continues to meet weekly to respond to Ministry of Health and our local health unit directives.

Rest assured that, despite the twists and turns, our focus will always be providing our important programs and services to individuals and families coping with life-limiting illness and grief.

Thank you to our community for the incredible patience and support you have shown us throughout this challenging time.

Stay safe everyone.

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Hospice Peterborough Celebrates Provincial Accreditation

Hospice Peterborough is now officially accredited through Hospice Palliative Care Ontario (HPCO) with a near-perfect score. The accreditation, with a 98.67% score, offers a ‘stamp of approval’ signifying to clients, health professionals, community members and funders that it meets the highest standards for the delivery of consistent, quality service and care and is committed to continual learning and improvement.

“It is with much pride that I sincerely thank our incredible team of staff, board members and volunteers who have all worked so hard – on top of day-to-day duties – to make our dream of accreditation a reality,” says Hospice Peterborough executive director Hajni Hős. “We have demonstrated to healthcare peers that we consistently deliver outstanding care to the community with professionalism and compassion.”

Hospice Peterborough staff join HPCO accreditors who toured the building in Fall 2021 as part of the rigorous accreditation process

The process involved a vigorous and comprehensive 18-month review of the residence, community programs, services and professional standards including everything from fiscal responsibility to resident safety to professional development for staff. Out of 134 hospice sites across the province, 35 currently hold HPCO accreditation.

Past executive director Linda Sunderland started the accreditation process, before the new building and residence were built on London Street, to ensure all operations were in line with industry standards and best practices.

The process also reviewed aspects such as governance, quality assurance, client care, fundraising and volunteer management. HPCO reviewed, for example, how Hospice Peterborough develops care plans for residents as well as emergency-response plans, volunteer safety and whether the organization is publicly transparent with fundraised dollars.

“Best practices are always evolving and we will never stop looking to learn and improve as an organization and a team,” Hős adds .

Accreditation requires ongoing compliance, with regular interim reports, and must be renewed every three years.

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Our Updated Response to COVID-19

*Please call Hospice Peterborough 705-742-4042 for most up to date information*

As the pandemic progresses, Hospice Peterborough continues to monitor new and emerging information daily while our Outbreak Management Team continues to meet weekly to respond, as needed, in order to keep our residents, volunteers, staff and community safe.

We are once again functioning at 10-bed capacity while following all required Peterborough Public Health directives and provincial guidelines.  

Hospice Peterborough staff don full PPE for COVID-19 safety.

As it now stands, anyone entering the building is required to wear a medical-grade mask and show proof of a second vaccine dose. For those unvaccinated, Hospice Peterborough requires an on-site rapid-antigen test.

Community staff have resumed working in the building although some continue to work part-time from home, depending on their roles, and many meetings continue to be held over Zoom.

Many programs continue in a virtual setting, although some groups are meeting in-person with proper safety precautions in place and heightened disinfection.

The Palliative Care Community Team continues with online and phone meetings with the possibility of some in-person sessions taking place in the Hospice building.

We are thrilled to have many volunteers back in the building to lend their time, hearts and expertise to our care.

We are aware that all this could change at a moment’s notice based on new variants, increased local cases or changing directives from the province.

But for now, with help from our community, we are focused on doing what we have done since the start of this pandemic: Providing our important programs and services to individuals and families devastated by death, terminal illness and grief.

Thank you to our community for the incredible patience and support you have shown us throughout this challenging time.

We are so grateful.

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Local Family Thankful for Support After Loss of Parents

After losing both parents, days apart, the Lockyer family shares story of how Hospice supported their family and aims to ensure supports continue to be available to all

Susan and Wayne

Our parents shared a great love story – one that lasted more than half a century and ended with each of them dying of a broken heart.

Many of you might know our father Wayne Lockyer – he co-owned and operated Lockyers’ Garden Centre and was a local minor hockey coach – and our mother Susan Lockyer who worked for many years at the Mapleridge Shoppers Drug Mart and was well-known for her kind soul and spectacular smile.

They were happily married for 52 years and they loved, played and worked with passion all while raising us three children.

It was devastating when Mom was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in her 70s but she maintained a positive attitude as she prepared for surgery.

It wasn’t long, however, before we received the gut-wrenching news that Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer and only had a couple of months to live. Mom postponed her surgery to be by his side when he was admitted to the wonderful care of Hospice Peterborough.

We have so much gratitude for the care we received – as a whole family – when Dad stayed in the residence. Mom stayed with him 24-7 and staff even brought in a double-sized hospital bed so they could sleep beside each other. Staff catered to their favourite foods (Dad was a picky eater!), provided Mom with a shoulder to cry on as well as professional grief support and a nurse even played guitar in the room so Mom and Dad could dance. We are fortunate to have an amazing local hospital but these are things that were only possible at Hospice.

As Dad’s health continued to decline, Mom had an increasingly hard time. One day, Mom couldn’t catch her breath – Hospice nurses called an ambulance for her and took care of her until she was taken to hospital to be treated. About a week later Mom was rushed to hospital from home when she suffered cardiac arrest and was put on life support with stress cardiomyopathy, also known as Broken Heart Syndrome.

After making the decision to take her off of life support, our family felt raw as we gathered at the hospital, held each other tight and said our goodbyes. My father’s heart was broken. The following day, Dad was a little less responsive. The morning after that, he told us he had had a conversation with Mom and felt ready to go; he died 15 minutes later.
You never know what the future holds and we had no idea that this is how our parents’ story would unfold. What we do know is that we’re forever grateful to Hospice Peterborough for being so loving, kind and thoughtful with our whole family and for treating Mom and Dad with such respect, compassion and empathy.

In gratitude, we used our family business RoadSide Greetings and Designs as a fundraiser this year and raised funds so Hospice can keep offering all of its programs and services free of charge whether it’s the end-of-life residence, grief counselling, day groups or community education.

In this season of giving, we ask that you please join us today by making your own donation.

Let’s make sure Hospice Peterborough’s expertise, compassion and care are there for all local families when they need it most.

All the best to you and yours,

Rich Sherri Kim

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Two Sessions Remain for Palliative-Care Speaker Series Focusing on Indigenous Communities

‘A safe place to ask questions, share stories and learn from each other’

Indigenous community health partners, frontline workers and family members still have an opportunity to join two final sessions of a free palliative-care speaker series that will focus on ‘Medication – To Give or Not to Give?’ (March 31) and ‘Health-Care Consent and Advanced Care Planning’ (April 16).

The speaker series, facilitated by the Central East Regional Cancer Program’s (CE RCP) Indigenous Cancer, has been ongoing since February and was created in partnership with the Central East First Nation partners.  

“The speakers will cover important topics in palliative care to help provide emotional, mental, spiritual and physical support to those from First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities living with life-limiting illnesses,” says Janice Kelly, CE RCP Indigenous Outreach Liaison. “Our previous sessions have drawn participants from a wide range of communities and have been a safe place to ask questions, share stories and learn from each other.”

Patti Stanton, Palliative Pain and Symptom Management Consultant through Hospice Peterborough, will be leading both final sessions.

In ‘Medication – To Give or Not to Give,’ the session will include learning the purpose of medications at end of life, acknowledging traditional medicines and how to best store/handle medication. This session will support caregiver and families with personal palliative-care toolkits.

In ‘Health Care Consent and Advanced Care Planning,’ the focus will be on issues such as advance planning about who will be your decision maker if you become unable to speak for yourself and why it’s important to write down the location of important documents such as passports, deeds, tax returns and insurance policies.

“Hospice Peterborough is grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Central East Regional Cancer Program for this important speaker series,” says Ms. Stanton. “I look forward to conversations and storytelling about these issues, which can sometimes be difficult to talk about, but are critical to discuss before something unexpected happens.”

Pre-registration for both upcoming sessions is not required. The March 31 session runs from Noon to 1:30 p.m. while the April 16 session runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Please email Janice Kelly at jakelly@lh.ca to access the meeting link or for more information. 

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Community Pulls Together to Raise More Than $26,000 for Hospice in Honour of Local Woman

‘For the Love of Jan’ fundraiser was created by family who founded and owns Paris Marine in Lakefield

In an overwhelming response to the local fundraiser ‘For the Love of Jan,’ the community rallied together to raise $26,566 for Hospice Peterborough in honour of the late Janice Paris. The Paris family, a well-known family in the community who are the founders and owners of Paris Marine in Lakefield, matched all donations made to the monthly giving program, up to $10,000, for the month of February. The fundraiser was a way to say thank-you to Hospice Peterborough for its services during Mrs. Paris’ sudden illness and when it was time to grieve only a few months after learning she had a rare type of leukemia.


“Hospice played a major role in assisting our family with Jan’s final days and we wanted to donate matching funds to get maximum financial support for the young adult and youth grief programs that are not currently government funded,” said Bill Paris, who was married to Jan for more than 50 years. “We’ve had an overwhelming response to the fundraiser and I have had my own personal experience with the help these grief programs provide. I appreciate how this program teaches you how to deal with emotions and understand how the brain processes grief.”


The funds will support youth in our community who have experienced the death of someone close to them and – often through arts-based activities – help them manage their feelings and behaviours. Through the pandemic, Hospice has continued to offer these critical services virtually either one-on-one or in small groups.


Hospice Peterborough executive director Hajni Hős thanks the Paris family for sharing their deeply personal story and for giving back to the community in memory of a loved one.

“It is fitting to direct these funds to children and teen groups in honour of a cherished mother and grandmother who devoted herself to her family,” Hős says. “When children in our community can better manage their grief, we all win.”

Jan Paris (far left) with her husband Bill, daughter Tracey, front row are twin daughters Julie and Deborah
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Hospice Peterborough Staff Receive First Round of COVID-19 Vaccinations

“Staff are grateful to be able to continue their work while ensuring client and resident safety”

Hospice Peterborough staff are counted among the first wave of organizations in Peterborough Public Health’s rollout program to receive the COVID-19 vaccination in Peterborough.

Staff members started receiving the first dose of the vaccine on Saturday (March 6) and the goal is for Hospice staff to be fully vaccinated by early summer.

“We are immensely proud of how our staff has risen to every challenge during these extremely difficult times and we are pleased this vaccine is available to them so they can continue their work safely,” Executive Director Hajni Hős stated.

While residents at Hospice Peterborough will not receive the vaccination, all staff will be vaccinated and continue to observe social distancing and proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) usage to ensure the safety of clients, residents, their families, and each other.

Throughout the pandemic, Hospice Peterborough has continued to offer numerous programs and services for those in the community who are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, are at the end of life, and who are grieving. New educational programming such as the virtual Grief 101 series has also been added in response to emerging needs in the community.

“We would like to thank all our community partners, especially PRHC and Peterborough Public Health for the tremendous amount of work that has gone into coordinating and rolling out vaccines to the community,” Hős added.

Laura Zielinski, PSW at Hospice Peterborough, received her vaccine Monday morning at PRHC.