SACKVILLE, N.B. – Last week, May 4-11, was National Hospice Palliative Care Week, a time to raise awareness about hospice palliative care throughout the nation. For those not in the know, hospice palliative care is a special type of healthcare for people who are living with a life limiting illness and their families. The goals of hospice palliative care include making the dying person as comfortable as possible, managing pain and symptoms, providing psychosocial support, and extending quality of life at the end of life. Unfortunately, not all Canadians have equal access to hospice palliative care services, a situation that must change. Lack of awareness leads to misconceptions about hospice palliative care, so this year’s National Hospice Palliative Care Week campaign focused on “Busting the Myths” on hospice palliative care. These myths include the belief that “Palliative care is a location, not a resource”, when the reality is that hospice palliative care services can be provided in many settings, including the dying person’s home. Other myths exist about hospice palliative care, for example, “Palliative care is only for patients near the end of their lives” and “Receiving palliative care means I’ve admitted defeat”. The reality is that hospice palliative care benefits patients and families from diagnosis until end of life and hospice palliative care is for any one at any stage of their illness, aimed at improving quality of life for patients and families.
To mark National Hospice Palliative Care Week, the Tantramar Hospice Palliative Care Organization (THPCO) had a table at the Sackville Farmers Market on May 4. THPCO is a non-profit organization which advocates and supports the provision of hospice palliative care services in the Tantramar region. In addition to raising awareness about hospice palliative care and providing grief and bereavement peer support groups free of charge, THPCO also seeks to normalize dying, death, and bereavement, which is why last Saturday’s market display also included a portable “Before I Die” wall. THPCO chair Stephen Claxton-Oldfield describes the “Before I Die” wall as “kind of like a community bucket list.” Visitors to the Farmers Market were invited to pick up a piece of chalk and complete the phrase, “Before I die, I want to …” The idea behind the wall is to get people to reflect on death and life and share their hopes, dreams, and wishes in a public space. Doing so can help bring clarity to the things that are most important in people’s lives. By market’s end, the wall was completely full of people’s aspirations.
For more information on THPCO and the hospice palliative care services that are available to everyone in the region, visit thpco.ca.