Palliative care centre is improving the end-of-life journey
Making the most of the time we have
The wifi password at the new palliative care centre is “makeeachdaycount.”
When you know you don’t have many days left, the words become more than a tired cliché.
Richard Arsenault is in the end stages of a respiratory disease that has ravaged his heart and lungs, leaving him with just a quarter of each vital organ functioning. The 62-year-old Charlottetown man has been a palliative care patient for almost a year. His experience has completely changed the way he sees end-of-life care.
He spends his weekends at home with Karen, recently went mackerel fishing and is looking forward to a weekend at a cottage this month.
He knows any day could be his last. He has made his arrangements and peace with the people he loves.
“Coming here, it’s not the end of life, in a lot of ways it’s the origin of life -- it was a new beginning for me.”
“I have my moments but it’s hard to get down in here, they won’t let you. They do their best to cheer you up and they’re a hard bunch to refuse. “They’re so good to me, this place is phenomenal. I’m in way better shape than I was.
The new $5.6 Million palliative care centre is improving the end-of-life journey for patients and their families by providing therapeutic touch, music therapy, cooking, arts and crafts, flower arranging and beautiful outdoor spaces.
Dr. Mireille Lecours goes to work day and night to help her patients' die a good death.'
She has been doing it for two decades, supporting the dying - and their families -through their final days. Most people just want to be listened to, be understood, have their last wishes granted, she says.
"If the family is doing OK, they're usually doing OK," she says.
It's important to her to get to know her patients as individuals so she can make sure they're as comfortable as possible. "We certainly do our best to know who the person is - what's important to them," she said.
"If we are playing opera music in their room and they hate opera music, they love country music, that's going to agitate them, that's the kind of things we ask before." Most people in the final stages of an illness, are most worried about their loved ones.
Alycia McGuire's husband Brian was in palliative care for 8 months before he died in 2007.
"You just feel it out, whatever they need." A large family room in the new centre was recently dedicated to Brian McGuire. It has large windows, a small kitchen and a fireplace. "Large families - like ours - can gather in this room, dedicated to him," McGuire said.
The compassion and comfort she and her family received from the staff at the palliative care centre touched her so deeply she decided to become a volunteer. "I decided it was time to do something to help somebody else on their journey so I took a hospice care course and became a volunteer," she said. It has been one of the most rewarding things she has done in her life. "I get more back than I give to the patients and families here, even though they're on their final journey and they know that, they're very easy to talk with and down to earth."
Sometimes she does laundry, makes coffee, sometimes she just sits beside someone in silence.