By Kathie Vilkas, Executive Director, Williams Lake Hospice Society –

How do you envision your end-of-life? In a hospital? In your home? Have you thought about what you would like your end-of-life journey to look like? Have you discussed your wishes with the important people in your life? Have you done your Advanced Care Plan? What is hospice palliative care? Imagine you are diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. How do you even begin to make such difficult life decisions?


What is Hospice Palliative Care?
Firstly, hospice palliative care is not just for the final days or months of life. Hospice palliative care is not a place; it is a model of care—a wholistic approach to healthcare, including physical, emotional, spiritual, and social support of the whole person and support for their loved ones. Palliative care includes pain and symptom management, caregiver support and respite, as well as spiritual care from a palliative care team. Hospice palliative care is about approaching end-of-life with dignity, increased quality of life, compassionate support, comfort, and courage.

Williams Lake Hospice Society (WLHS) is improving the quality of life of those individuals and their families facing life-limiting illness, death, or bereavement, through compassionate support, education, and advocacy.

Community Resource
Hospice referrals are made by healthcare professionals, friends, family, or self-referrals. WLHS has two palliative suites, including a furnished family room at Deni House. We offer anticipatory grief and bereavement support and resources, and medical grade sheepskins and other equipment to our clients and their families. We also have a library full of resources available to our clients, their families, and the public. Stop by the office, relax on our comfy couch, and have a confidential chat with one of our staff. Hospice is a safe space to share your story.

Volunteers are the Heart of Hospice
WLHS volunteers provide support, comfort, and empathetic listening to the individual and support to their loved ones. Volunteers encourage the client to share their story, listen to concerns, act as an advocate, provide caregiver respite, and simply be a comforting, supportive presence. The most valuable skill a hospice volunteer can provide is simply listening. If you are interested in making a difference in someone’s end-of-life journey, please contact our office. We are always looking for volunteers to join our amazing team. Individuals must complete End-of-Life Support training to develop the skills necessary to be a supportive presence to the client and their family. Communication skills, spiritual needs, grief and bereavement, and self-care for the volunteer are just a few of the components covered in this invaluable training. Volunteers are often asked, “Why do you volunteer for hospice”? followed by, “I could never do what you do”. The response is always the same: “It is a privilege and a gift to be welcomed into someone’s life at such a vulnerable time”.

You can volunteer at our Annual Memory Tree Celebration and Hike for Hospice events (no training required). Just give us a call.

Grief Recovery Support Group
Journey Through Grief is a six-week peer-support recovery group, offering a support system to help you move through your grief journey. Companionship and understanding from others in the group living their own grief story is often helpful in the grief recovery process. In a society that avoids talking about death and has difficulty dealing with grief, it is an opportunity to share your story, listen to other’s stories, discuss coping on a day-to-day basis, and manage on the most difficult days. Throughout the six weeks you do the ‘grief work’ and work towards recovery.

Our next group is April 4, 11, 18, 25 & May 2, 9 (Wednesday evenings) from 6–8 p.m. at the WLHS office. Please call for more information and to register.

What’s Happening @ WLHS?
We have lots going on the next few months. End-of-Life Support training, Grief Recovery Support Group (April 4, 11, 18, 25 & May 2, 9), 2nd Annual Hike for Hospice (Sunday May 6th), Hospice Palliative Care Awareness Week (May 6–12), May is Hospice Palliative Care Awareness Month in Williams Lake, and much more.

We are still working on dates and details so stay tuned for further information. Visit us on Facebook or the WLHS website, or give us a call at (250) 392-5430 or stop by the office from 9 a.m. to noon Monday to Friday.


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