[googlefont font=”Open Sans” size=”18px” margin=”10px 0 20px 0″]Champlain LHIN expands “home away from home” with new Ottawa residential hospice beds[/googlefont]

Gigi Gottlob did her best to care for her terminally ill husband, Klaus, at home, but she said it wasn’t enough. “Even 24-hour nursing care at home can’t equal the care they get here,” she said, referring to the residential care program at Hospice Care Ottawa.

Based on Klaus’ positive experiences at the day hospice program, he said “yes” right away when he was offered the opportunity to move into one of their residential hospice beds. Gigi said he settled in quickly in such a caring environment, and referred to his new setting as “home.” His well-being and quality of life improved, and Gigi had “a big peace of mind” knowing he was in good hands.

“For the weeks that Klaus was there, our family was with him as much as possible, including overnight if we wanted. It was an all-around amazing experience,” said Gigi. “The nurses and volunteers take the time to talk to and connect with patients and their families. So really, the family gets care, too.”

Responding to community concerns about the need for a regional approach to hospice palliative care, the Champlain LHIN spearheaded the formation of the Champlain Hospice Palliative Care Program, and continues to fund it. The LHIN led the effort by bringing partners together to create a common vision and work toward local solutions. This was the first regional program of its kind in Ontario. Champlain was also one of the first LHINs in the province to support hospice palliative care as a priority (see our strategic plan for more information).

In 2010, the regional program explored communities’ needs for residential hospice beds. Results showed one of the region’s highest need areas was in Ottawa West. Ten additional beds were created with funding from the LHIN ($165,880 in start-up, and $900,000 annually), and space from Hospice Care Ottawa.

The new beds opened gradually last year, with all 10 operational by November 2013. They are temporarily at Hospice Care Ottawa’s Central West location (Carling Avenue) until 2016, when their new permanent location in Kanata will be renovated and operational.

These beds nearly double Hospice Care Ottawa’s residential care capacity from the nine beds at the May Court location (Cameron Avenue). May Court’s yearly average of people served for 2012 and 2013 was 170. In the first 12 months of opening Central West’s beds, 125 people were admitted. Between the two locations, 300 – 400 individuals will likely be served by this program each year.

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Family member and Hospice Care Ottawa volunteer, Gigi Gottlob, at Central West.

“The new beds align with the Champlain LHIN’s strategy of building a strong foundation of primary, home and community care,” said Chantale LeClerc, Champlain LHIN CEO. “We are committed to helping more people receive palliative care supports in their setting of choice, and increasing the number of residential care beds addresses that need. These patients and their families receive care in a home-like setting, providing all with a much-needed peace of mind during a very challenging time.”

Gigi’s husband of 50 years passed away in late 2008. She knew immediately she wanted to give back. After taking some time to heal, she became a Hospice Care Ottawa volunteer in January 2012.

She is one of roughly 120 mission-critical volunteers in the residential hospice program who care for and support hospice patients and their families. “We wouldn’t be here without our volunteers,” said Lisa Sullivan, Hospice Care Ottawa Executive Director.

Gigi works with the nurses to provide care in both of Hospice Care Ottawa’s residences. “As a volunteer, I can share my experience, and hopefully help patients and their families through this. If I’d known then what I know now, I may have had a different outlook on Klaus’ dying.”

When asked about her plans for the future, it is clear Gigi will continue to volunteer. “I love this environment. I love the patients. I love the people I work with; we work as a team.”

Bob Chiarelli, MPP for Ottawa West, Nepean said, “Hospices play a key role in end-of-life care and provide patients and loved ones a thoughtful, safe and supportive place at a time when they need it most. These new beds for Hospice Care Ottawa will provide families dignity and care close to home.”

Residential hospice is one important part of hospice palliative care services provided in our region. Other services are available at home, in community and hospital settings. They include end-of-life care, day hospice, transportation, family and caregiver support, and bereavement support. For more information, visit the Champlain Hospice Palliative Care Program.

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Originally posted on the Champlain LHIN website.