Barb Brouwer/Salmon Arm Observer                                 Sitting comfortably in one of the counselling rooms at the Shuswap Hospice Care Centre, Tracey Kirkman, executive director of the Shuswap North Okanagan Division of Family Practice and Shuswap Hospice Society executive director Cookie Langenfeld discuss the new ambulatory care services being provided at the centre.

Barb Brouwer/Salmon Arm Observer Sitting comfortably in one of the counselling rooms at the Shuswap Hospice Care Centre, Tracey Kirkman, executive director of the Shuswap North Okanagan Division of Family Practice and Shuswap Hospice Society executive director Cookie Langenfeld discuss the new ambulatory care services being provided at the centre.

Shuswap Hospice centre provides care for the living

New clinical care services now available for ambulatory patients

It’s not all about dying.

The Shuswap Hospice Resource Centre is home to many programs for the living, including a new clinical care service for people with chronic or life-limiting conditions.

Located in Marine Park Plaza, overlooking Salmon Arm Bay, the Shuswap Hospice Society has partnered with Interior Health’s Community Care Nursing and the Shuswap North Okanagan Division of Family Practice to provide several services in a peaceful and beautiful setting.

Clinic services such as wound care, IV antibiotic administration, catheter care, fluid drainage care and PICC dressing changes will be available on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Clients receiving care at the centre need to be able to transfer themselves to the treatment stretcher in the designated care area by themselves.

Additional resources available at the centre include counselling, relaxation massage, respite and caregiver support.

Community nurse Allison New says the new services are part of a trial to see if ambulatory care patients will welcome going to the more peaceful location.

“It’s a bit nicer environment and it will take some of the load off the lab,” says New of the Tank Hill facility.

A large room, the former regional district boardroom, could become the site for meetings between patients, families, caregivers and doctors, including video consultation with specialists in other communities.

As well as getting needed clinical care, the addition of the community clinic services may offer an opportunity for an introduction to the many other services available at the Shuswap Hospice Resource Centre.

Hospice executive director Cookie Langenfeld points out the centre is “not all about the last days” and that some people live with life-limiting conditions such as MS, COPD, cancer or diabetes for many years.

“We just help them manage it and cope with it,” she says.

An enthusiastic Tracey Kirkman, executive director of the Shuswap North Okanagan Division of Family Practice (SNO), is excited by the addition of the clinical services.

She says it is the result of almost six years of collaborative work on an issue that became very clear in a 2012 health survey that indicated the need to improve palliative care.

“We are unable to build a hospice but we can support people on their journey who are struggling with life-limiting conditions or who are palliative,” she says. “The vision is that this is truly a team-based service, not just clinical and that it grows into a one-stop access with nurses, doctors and support programs.”

Tracey says collaborators are “chipping away” at some of the needs identified in the survey. There are now two designated palliative care beds in Shuswap Lake General Hospital thanks to theShuswap Hospital Foundation.

“The foundations was generously supported by local Rotary clubs, SNO and the community who contributed to the foundation’s 2016 fall campaign,” says Kirkman.

There is also one designated palliative care bed in Bastion Place.

With palliative care beds now in an acute-care setting, Kirkman says it was time to look at home care and other ways to provide support.

And one of those ways is the provision of a counselling or respite for caregivers, who can take advantage of support or enjoy a stroll in beautiful surroundings.

“It gets them out of the house, which can sometimes be a prison,” she says of the often lonely role caregivers face.

Kirkman is hoping the service will be expanded in the future and notes it will be reviewed in six months.

In the meantime, trained Shuswap Hospice volunteers continue to provide patient-centred palliative care to address people’s physical, emotional, psychological, social, spiritual and practical issues at the end of life, prepare people for the dying process and bereavement.

Help is also available to cope with loss and grief, care that may be offered at home or in hospital, palliative care units or residential facilities.

Shuswap Hospice has been providing compassionate care services to the Shuswap since 1986 and describes hospice as “less about dying and more about life. It’s living life fully amid chaos and strife.”

Meanwhile, appointments for the new clinical care service may be made by calling Community Care Nursing at 250-803-4500.

For any of the other Shuswap Hospice services, call 250-832-7099.