County to determine grant Thursday for residential hospice

City council here has just announced a grant of $1-million to support a residential hospice for residents who are near death.
Now, officials and support­ers of Hospice Wellington are waiting to see if county council will provide another $400,000 that the group requested last fall.
Executive director Brent Charette said in an interview on Feb. 23 the city had granted Hospice Wellington the full amount, and now the wait is for the county to provide a share. The renovations at Kort­wright and Scottsdale Drives will cost a total of $4.4-million, and Hospice Wellington has raised over $3.2-million.
Charette said when it is completed, the hospice will provide ten beds for people with a serious illness or for those who are dying. “It could be the last few days or weeks of life,” Charette said.
Carolyn Skimson, now re­tired as the Chief Executive Officer of Groves Hospital in Fergus, strongly supports the idea of a residential hospice. Charette said when she was at Groves, “She put a lot of effort into palliative care.”
Skimson said in an inter­view she has seen first hand how important a hospice can be when friends, a couple who lived in Australia, had to go through a terminal illness.
She said the husband was unable, near the end, to provide the required 24-hour-a-day care his wife need­ed. But at a hospice, he was able to stay with her and she could get the care she needed.
Skimson said Waterloo Re­gion has a hospice, Lisaard House in Cambridge, and the Guelph Hospice will be similar to that.
She said she not only supports getting a hospice up and running in the city that county residents will be able to use, but also eventually hav­ing the county take the next step and to build a similar resi­dential hospice somewhere in Wellington County.
She said of people who are close to death, “They need sup­port, their families need sup­port; this is a vital service.”
Hospice care 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. Many of its volunteers have worked at county hospitals such as Groves for many years.
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Still in budget
As of the end of last week, the funding for the residential hospice was still in the county council budget that will be considered on Thursday.
Finance committee chair­man Mike Broomhead said it is an issue that “county council will likely have to decide.”
The finance committee has supported the social services committee and has recommended in its report to council that the money be kept in the budget.
All county committees were asked last month to determine if they could find some cuts to help reduce a tax increase of over 5% down to 4%. Broom­head said social services, which had the residential hospice in its budget, last week “made the recom­mendation for it to stay in.”
He added that county officials are aware of the city’s grant. “We heard that was coming,” he said of the $1-mil­lion.
Broomhead said that at one point the county committees’ cuts had reached 3.9%, but then a few more items that had been taken out were put back in, so the increase, as of the end of last week had settled at 4.03% “without affecting next year’s budget, or the five year plan.”
Whether councillors decide that is enough, or if they look for further cuts, comes at their meeting on Thursday, but the minutes being sent to council for consideration include recommending a budget with a 4.03% increase.