Get to Know Prairie Hospice Society
Could you please tell us a bit about your organization? Your mandate and a bit of your history?
Prairie Hospice Society is a charitable non-profit community organization working to ensure access to compassionate, community-based, end-of-life support in Saskatoon. Our goal is to enhance the quality of life of those facing advancing illness, death, and bereavement wherever people call home. We provide one-on-one companionship and non-medical support for clients and their families.
Prairie Hospice Society has existed for just over 10 years. A community visioning session in 2011 kick-started a wave of support from open discussion of what hospice care in Saskatoon should look like. In 2013 PHS launched Hospice Without Walls - a community program providing in-home matched companionship and support so clients at the end of life could stay home as long as possible. In 2016, we added to our Hospice Without Walls a Hospice Now program, providing a quick response service to clients and families by providing rides for appointments, providing pick up of groceries, and urgent respite and household- related needs. In 2019, we added again to our Hospice Without Walls a Bereavement Support to our client services, where volunteers provide support to the family for up to one year after their loved one has passed, by providing a series of check ins and offering clients a friendly voice and a safe place to grieve.
Why is hospice care so important?
One never thinks about illness until faced with the stark reality of it - so many stages of emotion to be experienced and processed along with the living of everyday life. Our mobile culture has drawn what had been our traditional supports – our young people – to opportunities in other places near and far, often without the chance to be home often. Today, when there’s an illness in the family, there’s often a sudden void in help with daily tasks like getting to appointments, buying groceries, or simple daily comfort and companionship. Amplify managing a suddenly more complicated life, with the importance of being able to process all the profound thoughts that arise about death and dying (often even beyond the ability of family members to process). How comforting to have someone trained in dealing with just those issues. Hospice care supports individuals approaching end of life and their families. It is holistic care that focuses on quality of life by ensuring the individual’s physical symptoms are looked after and their emotional and spiritual needs are met so they can die in comfort and with dignity.
Of what value is hospice without walls?
Studies have demonstrated the cost-effectiveness of hospice palliative care. While it costs on average $36,000 to die in a chronic care setting and up to 50% less in hospital-based palliative care, it costs $16,000 to die at home. Community-University Institute for Social Research (CUISR) did a very thorough evaluation of Prairie Hospice Society. It audited services provided, and calculated the equivalent dollar value, arriving at a figure called Social Return on Investments. CUISR found that for every dollar invested in Prairie Hospice, $4 to $11 worth of service was delivered!
Of note, non-monetary value was revealed in the following ways:
- enjoyment of accessible, compassionate supportive services
- enjoyment of voice and choice, dignity and control
- improved pain and symptom management
- peace of mind
- filling a medical system gap and helping navigate the health-care system
- enjoyment of relationships with well-trained / well-matched volunteers
- secure reliable and emotionally supportive transportation
- care for the family, through respite and bereavement services
How does all of this happen?
Referrals are received from multiple sources, self, family, physicians, community organizations, and the Saskatchewan Health Authority (CPAS). The Volunteer Coordinators meet with the potential client, identify their needs, and determine the program that would best meet this need. Many clients move between the programs as their needs change.
- Matched Companionship - offers non-medical care, including practical and emotional support, to terminally ill clients and their families. Volunteers perform a myriad of tasks depending on the needs, capacities, and desires of the clients. These tasks include such things as companionship, socialization, and transportation. Hospice Without Walls is “being there where the client is, walking with them on their journey”.
- Hospice Now - a quick response service. This service provides clients/families with urgent respite to provide the caregiver some time away and transportation for the client to appointments, outings and treatments.
- Bereavement support is offered to the family/friend following the death of the client, if they are interested, for up to one year. This is friendly support, not professional counselling.
Who provides the care in the Prairie Hospice program?
Volunteers offer non-medical, practical and emotional support to people who are living with a terminal illness. All volunteer services are offered to clients free of charge. Prairie Hospice Society volunteers are provided with a comprehensive training and the depth of understanding necessary to be a skilled and empathic companion. Helping the individual on their end of life journey navigate their journey. Helping them to live well until they die. To date Prairie Hospice society has trained over 225 volunteers who have served over almost 1000 clients.
How does Prairie Hospice receive funds?
Prairie Hospice is funded through donations, grants and fundraising. We do an annual December appeal and hold our largest fundraiser the 8th Annual Prairie Hospice Golf Classic which will be held again in Aug 2024. Sustainable funding is crucial to being able to reach our goals. We thank you for your support!