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The Margaret Bahen Hospice for York Region is a 10-bed residential hospice that will be opening in November, 2017. This residential hospice will not only serve Newmarket but also all of York Region. Build by Southlake Health Services, the Margaret Bahen Hospice will be operated by Better Living Health and Community Services. Better Living is a charitable organization that provides a continuum of programs and services for seniors including community hospice programs.

The Margaret Bahen Hospice for York Region will feature nursing and care staff 24 hours per day along with social work services, spiritual support, medical care, pharmacy, complimentary therapies and referral to other programs and services. The program will also be supported by more than 150 volunteers.

Residential Hospice represents an important link in the continuum of palliative care services available to individuals and families faced with critical “end of life” decisions. Within our own personal lives, none of us want to think about death or the painful process of dying for ourselves or those people close to us. However, when we are faced with the unthinkable and we have to deal with “end of life” issues, residential hospice is an excellent option to have available within the range of palliative care options that are available.

A residential hospice is typically a 10-bed facility that provides care and support to individuals and their families at the end of life. There are many residential hospices with fewer than 10 beds but the most common model would be a 10-bed facility. The thing that is most unique about a residential hospice is the approach that is used to provide care and the setting that it is done in. This approach includes medical care, emotional support, pain management and spiritual support in a home-like environment. Typically, the average stay in a residential hospice is very short with averages ranging from 10 to 17 days in many facilities.

The residential hospice provides a bridge between community hospice services and palliative care services. For many individuals dying at home is not an option that they can consider either due to their personal preferences or the complexity of their care needs. In this scenario, a residential hospice provides a great option to both obtain the necessary medical and social support while at the same time maintaining a home like environment. A residential hospice can also be a bridge between palliative care services in a hospital and community care. For those individuals who do not require a great deal of complex medical support, the residential hospice can be a good option to a hospital stay or palliative care unit.

“End of Life” care and palliative care options are a very personal choice and each individual has a very different set of priorities, beliefs and care needs that all factor into these decisions. The important principle for our healthcare system is that we have a seamless continuum of palliative care options that can support and meet the needs of individuals and families during a very difficult time.

One thing that all residential hospices have in common is that they simply could not survive without the support of their volunteers and donors. We will be looking to recruit new volunteers from the Newmarket and surrounding community for a number of important roles from visiting with residents to assisting in the kitchen to providing administrative support.

Residential Hospices are also a unique service within our healthcare system because of the funding model that has been adopted. While the Province of Ontario through the Local Health Integration Networks does cover the cost of the nursing and personal care services, all of the costs for administration, building operations and repairs and support staff must be provided by the organization through fundraising efforts. This means that the Margaret Bahen Hospice will need to raise approximately $700,000 in charitable donations on an annual basis.

The fall will be an exciting time with the opening of the Margaret Bahen Hospice for York Region. The landscape of palliative care services and the continuum of services will be enhanced with this new option for palliative care.