(Black Press file photo)

Victoria Hospice bereavement services coming to the West Shore

Services like counselling and drop-in bereavement group sessions will be available

Victoria Hospice services will be coming to the West Shore in the new year and it’s a welcome expansion, according to a Hospice official.

Come January, weekly patient consults with a palliative care physician and community counsellor as well as bereavement counselling sessions and a weekly drop-in group will be hosted at the Esquimalt/Westshore Health Unit.

Up until now, West Shore residents had to travel to Victoria to access these services which could be difficult, according to Tom Arnold, director of fund development at Victoria Hospice.

Arnold said a number of Hospice patients come from the West Shore and said he hopes they will take advantages of the new services being offered in their community.

Some major services being provided are one-on-one counselling and the drop-in bereavement support group.

“What we often hear from people who’ve experienced the death of a family member is that their friends are great but unless they’ve experienced death themselves they just don’t get it,” Arnold said. “It makes such a difference for bereaved people to be around other people who have similar experiences.”

Victoria Hospice serves roughly 1,000 patients a year in Greater Victoria and Arnold said the demand is continuing to grow.

“We know we need to do more to help people on the West Shore,” Arnold said.

Another service that will be offered is the opportunity to consult with a palliative care physician.

Arnold said Hospice is working with Island Health and local general practitioners in the community to find ways to support patients who want to be at home.

In Canada, an average of 75 per cent of people say they prefer the idea of dying at home. Arnold said data from the West Shore shows that when patients registered with Victoria Hospice, more than 80 per cent have been able to die at home or in a hospice setting.

“But we also know there’s a lot of patients we’re not reaching and that we’re not doing enough for,” Arnold said.

While the clinic is slotted to open in January, Arnold noted that the holidays can be a tough time for people who have lost a loved one. He offered some tips to help people get through the holidays: The holidays are a time where many people expect you to be cheerful and joyous but if you’ve just experienced a death you may not feel like you want to be. Understand that’s OK.

It’s OK to miss the person you love over the holidays.

Thinking about traditions can be important to people to honour a loved one but for others it can be hard. Give yourself the freedom to be flexible, especially in that first year.

Do something to keep the memory of your loved one alive. It can be something as simple as lighting a candle or doing something you used to love doing with them.


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