The B.C. government is providing $50,000 for improved access to hospice palliative care in Sooke.
The B.C. Center for Palliative Care is distributing the funds to Sooke Hospice Society towards two new hospice beds at Ayre Manor. The target completion date is this March.
The new hospice-designated beds are the first-ever for Sooke, but hospice care has been available in the community for several years through the hospice society.
“We think it’s wonderful that Sooke will have local hospice beds so people will have more family and friends able to visit them and keep them in a homely environment,” said Pat Brooks, Sooke Hospice chair.
The Ministry of Health and health authorities collaborated with the B.C. Centre for Palliative Care to determine how the funds would be allocated by studying B.C.’s palliative population data to assess characteristics such as age, underlying cause of death and geography.
Current bed-to-population ratios and home-based palliative services were also looked at, as well as projections of future demand.
“These improvements will help bring peace of mind and comfort for loved ones and their families during what can be a very challenging time,” said Social Development Minister Michelle Stilwell in a press release.
The Sooke Elderly Citizens Society and Sooke Hospice Society in the past have attempted to secure palliative care beds for Sooke.
When Ayre Manor completed its assisted living and complex care facilities in 2008, the province wouldn’t fund the beds, although they were in the original plans.
The hospice society found a house that it thought it could use, but was turned down again by the province because the building was not associated with a health facility.
In the ensuing years, hospice society used the house for caregiver respite, and to provide special beds and other equipment for patients who chose to die at home.
Ayre Manor will use two unfunded complex care beds to create the two hospice rooms, said Sandy Pedneault, chair of the Sooke Elderly Citizens Society. The society hopes to construct a room to reestablish at lease one complex care room.
“The board is going through the process of building a new room, but if the costs are two high we won’t be able to do that,” she said.
Pedneault said one hospice room is near completion and will hit a March 31 target date. The other will come later this spring.
Demand for hospice beds in Sooke is high, added Brooks.
Sooke Hospice Society receives many requests every year for someone asking for a palliative care room, but those patients are usually referred to Victoria Hospice at Royal Jubilee Hospital.
Brooks said at least one person in Sooke is waiting for a hospice room.
“We work very hard to keep people at home, but some people just do not want to be home at the end,” she said.