Kentville Hike for Hospice raises funds in support of palliative care volunteers


Published on May 7, 2017

Sherry Swanburg led participants in the Valley Hospice Foundation’s Hike for Hospice fundraiser in a group warm-up prior to the hike.

©Kirk Starratt

KENTVILLE, NS - With a site on the Valley Regional Hospital grounds now confirmed and plans to break ground later this year, a hospice for patients in need of palliative care is getting closer to reality.

The fifth annual Hike for Hospice at KCA School in Kentville on May 7 involved 12 teams and many individuals who gathered pledges and made donations in support of the cause.

There was a barbecue; musical entertainment and a 5 km hike along the rail trail to Miner’s Marsh and back. Sherry Swanburg led participants in a group warm-up prior to the hike.

Valley Hospice Foundation executive director Dale Sanford said the hospice is now a go and there’s a project team working toward breaking ground later this year.

“It will be a proud day,” Sanford said. “The Valley Hospice Foundation has been part of it, the hospital foundation has been part of it and everybody in this community is part of it.”

It was announced at the hike that a site for the hospice on the Valley Regional Hospital grounds in Kentville was confirmed May 4.

In the Annapolis Valley, options are currently limited for people receiving end-of-life care. People can die at home with the support of a community-based palliative care program. If that can’t happen, the other alternative is to go into the hospital.

Sanford said we have a wonderful hospital with great staff but a hospice will provide a different environment better suited to meet the needs of palliative care patients. It will feel more like a home where patients will have privacy. People working there will be well equipped to deal with the complex issues presented by end-of-life care.

Sanford said this year’s hike would support a planned approach for volunteer involvement. Initially, clinical volunteers will go into people’s homes to be with patients and help family members. They’ll follow patients into the hospital or long-term care facilities and they’ll be trained and ready to help people in the hospice when the doors open.

Sanford said there would be different roles for volunteers in the hospice and money will be needed to support these initiatives. The hospice foundation has committed to raising $25,000 in support of volunteer involvement and funds raised through the hike will go toward that commitment. The event raised $23,099 and Sanford said more contributions continue to trickle in.

Sanford said they couldn’t hold the hike without the support of volunteers, including the teams from Grant Thornton and Scotiabank.

Hoping to establish ‘centre of excellence’

Fern Brydon of Cambridge, a member of Nova Scotia Health’s palliative care team, and five of her colleagues took part in the hike as “The Palli-Wogs”.

Brydon said there are a lot of people who participate in the hike year after year but she always notices many new faces.

“That’s encouraging to us,” Brydon said. “It makes me think that word about the hospice is getting out there more and more and people are recognizing the need.”

She said they see people in need of a hospice everyday. They’re hoping to create a facility that’s a centre of excellence for end-of-life care.

They’re interested in having volunteers who can come in and be with patients who may just want someone to chat with so they’re not alone. Brydon said this could be difficult to do in the community or the hospital.