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JILL ELLSWORTH: Providing comfort, care and hope - Hospice societies changing the lives of Nova Scotians

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"As I began to read about the hospice society here in Cape Breton, my eyes were opened to the vast amount of services they provide." - Contributed
Generation Y Not writer Jill Ellsworth is a writer and communications specialist who lives in Dominion, N.S.

As a fairly healthy 25-year-old, I have to admit that hospice and palliative care haven’t always been topics at the forefront of my mind. So far, I’ve been lucky enough not to have a family member who has required such services, so it was easy for it to be out-of-sight-out-of-mind.

That all changed when I spoke to my friend Alyssa Rockwell about her experience as a music therapy intern. During her internship, she shadowed music therapist Jill Murphy, who works with the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton County to bring the joy of music to patients and their families.

Hearing Alyssa recount stories of the patients whose lives were forever changed by the kindness and compassion offered by the hospice society is what initially piqued my interest. Who is this group, and what services are they providing to our community?

As I began to read about the hospice society here in Cape Breton, my eyes were opened to the vast amount of services they provide. Not only do they arrange wonderful things like music therapy and pet therapy for those receiving palliative care, they also provide financial assistance for medical equipment and transportation, deliver flowers, educate family members, bake goodies, provide good conversation and so much more. The hospice society currently has more than 80 volunteers in the CBRM, working to provide comfort and care to palliative care patients and their families.

Recently, I was offered the opportunity to get involved with the hospice society, and I was thrilled. Although I had spent time scouring their website and reading about other hospice societies in Nova Scotia, there was so much more to learn, and I knew this would be the perfect way to continue the journey.

Little did I know that I was jumping in at such an exciting time. The hospice society just launched its Circle of Care Campaign, in an effort to raise funds for a new hospice residence in Cape Breton. Currently, palliative care is provided in homes, long term care facilities, and hospitals, but having a hospice residence would offer an additional home-like space for patients and their families.

This April, Hospice Halifax opened the first hospice residence in Nova Scotia. One patient called the space “absolutely perfect” and family members say it has impacted their experience with palliative care in an incredible way.

In 2018 alone, 943 patients were referred to the Palliative Care Service in Cape Breton, so knowing that we’re on our way to our own hospice residence that could change the lives of so many people is heartwarming.

I’ve already learned an important lesson from my short experience with the hospice society. Just because you haven’t had an experience with palliative care yet, doesn’t mean there won’t come a time in your life when you will. And if there is, the hospice society will be there for you, just like they have been for hundreds of others.

Jill Ellsworth is a writer and communications specialist who lives in Dominion, N.S. Her column appears biweekly across the SaltWire Network. She can be reached at jillellsworth94@gmail.com.



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