County okays cash for residential hospice

Officials and volunteers from around the county were pleased to learn that Well­ington will provide $400,000 to help build a resi­dential hospice facility in Guelph.
The recommendation to in­clude that money in the county budget was made by the fin­ance committee. Guelph pro­vid­ed $1-million for the project, to be spread over five years.
The facility will be used for people very ill or dying, so that along with their family and care giv­ers, they can meet in a home-like set­ting free of the stress of daily care.
Councillor Carl Hall was the first at county council on Feb. 28 to ask about the recom­mendation from the committee. He wanted to know where the building is located, and how much annual funding it will receive from the county.
Warden John Green ex­plain­ed the building will have spaces for 14 to 16 people, and will be located in Guelph.
He said if councillors wish­ed, they could spread their share of the building over two years, since that is how the city is funding the project.
Green also warned that de­ferring the project would have an effect on the 2009 budget.
When Green explained to Hall that the funding is “one time,” that was good enough for Hall.
Finance committee chair­man Mike Broomhead added, “We indicated it is ‘one time, and one time only.’ ”
Social services committee chairman Gord Tosh said there are other donations from funeral homes and private donors.
Green said, “It’s a place for people in declining health. It takes the burden off our health care system.”
Hospice Wellington’s ex­ecu­tive director Brent Charette said the renovations at Kort­wright and Scottsdale Drives will cost a total of $4.4-million, and Hospice Wellington has raised over $3.2-million.
He was attending the coun­cil meeting and waiting for the result of the vote, and left happy with the budget passed and the project approved.
Hall said he was asking ques­tions about the project because he had received some telephone calls about it.
Councillor Jean Innes, too, said she had calls and emails about the proposal “out of the blue.”
She asked that, in the future, councillors be informed quick­ly if there are some projects that come forward where peo­ple might be interested.
“I’ve spent the last few days finding out they [Hospice Well­ington] do fantastic work, and they’re mostly volunteers,” Innes said. But she would have appreciated some advance warning, she added.
Broomhead though, point­ed out the issue did not sud­denly arise, and is a full line item in council’s budget pack­age.
Green agreed, and said “It was a deferred item for last month. It shouldn’t be new to us.”
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‘Thrilled’ about cash
For Belwood resident Joyce Pratt, the county decision is wel­come News.
She has been a volunteer with Hospice Wellington for over 18 years, and she sees the project as one that is desper­at­ely needed.
“I was thrilled to hear the good News,” she said in an interview on the weekend.
Pratt added, “Our community is growing quickly and becom­ing more aware” of the need for such services.
Hospice treatment is a spe­cial concept of care that is de­signed to provide comfort and support to clients and their families who face a terminal or life threatening illness.
It was developed in England, and Hospice Wellington has been operating since 1980 in Guelph and the county. Many of its volunteers have worked at hospitals such as Groves for many years.
Pratt said all of Hospice Well­ington’s volunteers are specially trained over 14 weeks, and health care professionals will also be part of the residential hospice.
She said one of the benefits of that is family members who are worn out from caring for a loved one in poor health can visit that loved one in a home-like setting, and simply enjoy their company, rather than worrying about care.
Pratt said the goal is “to guarantee a quality of life right to the very last breath. Families are encouraged to be there – with­out the burden of adminis­tering medicines.”
Pratte said volunteers are always needed and Hospice Wellington is always looking for help. She noted that every Monday at Groves Hospital in Fergus, and once a week in Guelph, volunteers meet with people receiving Hospice Wellington care.
She explained peo­ple go to the Grov­es Hospital meetings. Some are suffering through bereave­ments, and some are “exhaus­ted caregivers. Pratt said the group uses meditation and thera­peutic touch to relieve stress.
“It’s quite appreciated by an average of 15 people a week,” she said.
Pratt added that there are all kinds of volunteer jobs avail­able at Hospice Wellington, in­cluding palliative care, be­reavement counseling, as well as such things as office work.
She also noted that with Guelph and the county’s donations, the group now has come within $1-million for the work to be completed to the building.