Salmon Arm has a marvellous organization in the Shuswap Hospice Society.
The group’s mission aims to make the last months of life comfortable and peaceful for patients and their caregivers. They operate a volunteer program for the visitation of patients with life-threatening illness, either in their homes or in the hospital in co-operation with a team of professionals.
As stated on their website, “Hospice is not a place; it’s a concept. The focus is on caring, not curing; on life, not death.”
While we understand this philosophy, there is one part with which we take issue.
In the Shuswap, hospice should be a place, as well as a concept. It is long past time that Salmon Arm had a hospice residence, where palliative patients can live out their final days with care and comfort. Currently there are a few palliative beds designated in Bastion Place, but this does not meet the need.
Vernon currently offers the closest Hospice House, which is a 12- bed residence where palliative individuals and their loved ones receive support at end of life. Occasionally, a bed might be made available to a Shuswap resident, but the travel distance, especially for frail elderly family members, can be difficult.
The Shuswap’s population is not getting any younger, and the demand for respectful, end-of-life care is only increasing.
Residents in this area need to make these wishes known to Interior Health, to insist that those dying in the Shuswap deserve the care option that a true hospice house would provide.