fsjpcs hike 2012

Fort St. John's palliative care society is kicking off care week with a hike.The Hike for Hospice is in line with a national campaign to raise awareness and money for hospice palliative care.

This city's society has been actively aiding those who have terminal illnesses for 15 years now."Basically, we are a group of volunteers that have been trained in palliative situations with people who are terminally ill, so the outcome is not good for them," said Cheryl Deakin, Fort St. John's Palliative Care Society's Chair.The Hike for Hospice is an effort to raise money for training and education materials, supplies for the palliative care kitchen, furnishing two palliative care rooms at the hospital and more. The hike, more importantly, is to raise awareness of how important hospice care is."We want to let them be aware that we're here and we want to help," said Deakin.

She said they provide a pivotal role for families who are dealing with a loved one who's on his or her deathbed."What we do is we would get a call from somebody and we can go either to the hospital, or we can go to their home and we just sit with them so that their families can get a break," she said. "Because at that time of their lives, it's pretty scary and it can be overwhelming for families."

Deakin, who has been involved for about eight years, said she's "passionate" about the cause."It's just nice to be able to help people," she said.

The society has approximately 20 active volunteers, but they are looking for more."Most of them work during the day," said Deakin. "That makes it really hard to schedule."She explained that a volunteer's main role is to simply sit with the patient."We could read to them; we could give them a hand massage or a foot massage," she said. "Basically, we just sit and listen if they want to talk."As an outsider, Deakin explained that it's often easier for patients to talk to their volunteers instead of families because they don't have to worry about hurting their feelings."I've talked to a lot of volunteers, and they're really scared because you don't know what you're going to come up against," she said. "After leaving the session - it's rewarding."

She noted that their volunteers don't usually get called until the very end."We might have one visit, two visits before, so you really don't get to know anybody, and they're usually in a bad state when you do get to go," she said.For a nominal fee, training is provided to all volunteers, and Deakin said anyone can volunteer."One of our youngest was 25-ish, and then up to seniors; we have both male and female because lots of times we'll have male clients, and it's just easier for them to have a male to visit," she said.

The Hike for Hospice takes place at the Pomeroy Sports Centre on Sunday, May 6, 2012, between 12 and 4 p.m.In years past, because of Fort St. John's chilly May weather, the hike has had to be postponed, Deakin explained. Because of the indoor walking track, it is able to fall in line with the rest of the country this year.If interested in hiking, come at 11:30 a.m.For more information, please phone the Palliative Care office at 250-787-2814. Deakin said, "This 10th Anniversary hike is very important to our local group so that we can help to raise awareness and help to educate the community of the many challenges faced by anyone who is in palliative care and providing end-of-life care to clients and their families and friends."

PHOTO AND ARTICLE COURTESY: Katelin Dean, Alaska Highway News



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