New room provides comfort for palliative care

Duane Hicks

When spending their final days together, both patients nearing end-of-life and their families would love to share that time at home.
Often this is not possible, but Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc. and community supporters have come together to provide the next best thing—a comfort care room at La Verendrye Hospital that offers patients a private, quiet, and home-like place to spend time with their families just before the end of their lives.
Riverside celebrated the opening of its new room, located on the second floor nursing unit, during a grand-opening ceremony last Wednesday morning.
“The goal of palliative care is to provide compassionate [care] and relieve suffering for patients with an illness for which there is no cure,” said Riverside executive vice-president Lori Maki.
“We wish for all patients nearing end-of-life to die in comfort and with dignity while treating them with respect and acceptance, acknowledging their right to privacy and confidentiality, and responding caringly to their individual needs,” she remarked.
“This newly-renovated room is beautiful, spacious, and uniquely-designed so patients may receive quality care in a comfortable, family-friendly environment,” Maki added.
“While we are able to provide hospital-level care, we do so in a home-like setting, with room to accommodate family members and their loved ones,” she explained.
Maki noted it’s long been the dream of Glenna Morand, former nurse manager of the Continuing Care Unit (CCU) at La Verendrye, to have a palliative care room for patients and their families.
“Glenna’s vision inspired others to follow in pursuit of her dream, and through the support of senior administration, managers and staff, we come to celebrate this memorable day,” she said.
“We are fortunate to be able to provide this room for patients through the generous donations from our local businesses, service clubs, community, and family memorials,” added Maki, noting the hospital maintenance and housekeeping staff also should be acknowledged in helping transform Room 209 into what it is today.
“While I thank Lori for acknowledging me, I must say having a comfort care room has been a vision of many throughout the corporation for a long time—a room decorated in a home-like, supportive, and comfortable atmosphere for our patients and families to spend quality time together,” said Morand, now nurse manager at the Emo Health Centre and chemotherapy unit, as well as director of patient safety.
Morand thanked Karen Sockolotuk, of Stan’s Carpet and Drapery here, for providing her design expertise, Green’s Countrywide Furniture and Appliances, Canadian Tire, the Riverside staff for donating their “dress down Friday” funds to the comfort care room, and Maki and bed management co-ordinator Bonnee Kielczewski for “decorating the room so beautifully.”
“Thank you from the bottom of our heart for making this vision a reality for our patients and their families,” said Morand.
Teresa Hazel, director of the Riverside Foundation for Health Care, said the funds to pay to renovate the room came from a variety of sources, including proceeds from the 2009-10 annual RBC Golf Classic ($15,000), as well as memorial funds that were established and dedicated to supporting the palliative care room, in particular Garnet Paull and May Cross.
As well, Alyssa Vanderaa and Jamie Davis of Davis Racing (car #85) organized a penny table and collected pledges to support the comfort care room during the Emo Fair, with Davis also donating a portion of his winnings from that weekend.
Hazel noted the Royal Canadian Legion Br. #29 “Poppy Fund” also will be making a donation toward the furnishings for the room.
“These donations, and your continued support of the Riverside Foundation, will ensure we have excellent health-care services and programs now and in the future,” Hazel remarked.
“The room . . . is lovely, and will be a special place for families, a place to reflect, a place to support each other, a place to love, and a place to share.
“I want you to know your donations do make a difference,” she stressed.
During a tour of the comfort care room last Wednesday, Morand said the hospital never really has had a proper, designated palliative care room.
“Basically, we’ve used one of our private rooms, which is so hospital-like,” she noted. “We wanted to make it home-like.
“We’ve seen several palliative care rooms in Dryden and around the district, and we just wanted to make it special, home-like,” she reiterated.
“Some of our families and patients, they’d like to have their home to pass, but that’s just not a possibility for many reasons,” Morand added.
“So we thought, let’s try to make something that’s as home-like as possible, where the families and patients can spend quality time together.”
The comfort care room is set up with a hospital bed for the patient, but there are many features to make it feel like home—from the comfortable couches and chairs for family members to sit on to soft lighting and paintings on the walls.
There’s also a bulletin board near the patient’s bed, where family members can post photos, cards, and other items to remind the patient how much they’re loved.
As well, there’s a virtual fireplace, a CD player to provide soothing music, and a TV which can play DVDs of pleasant, relaxing scenes.
The room also features a kitchen counter, complete with a sink and small fridge, as well as a private bathroom.
Susan Carmody and Dana Lyn Begin, of RBC Financial Group, both were impressed with the new room.
“I am overwhelmed. It’s such a special gift to families,” said Carmody.
“They deserve it. Everybody deserves a room a like this.
“We’re fortunate to have Riverside back something like this up, to go that extra mile for people,” she added.
“I am very impressed. It’s gorgeous,” echoed Begin. “It’s a very comfortable environment, just a really nice place for people to relax and have their family with them during their time of need.”
“RBC is very, very proud to have been part of creating such a beautiful space,” noted Carmody.
Because the hospital only has one room decorated to the extent of the comfort care room, Maki said Riverside is asking patients and their families to be understanding if the room is not available during their time of need.
“Our inter-professional team ensures appropriate and efficient admissions to the palliative care room and for discharges of patients no longer requiring the level of care provided,” she noted.
“Riverside is committed to the quality care of all our patients, and ensures that care and support is provided throughout all of our facilities,” she pledged.