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A Vision of Care and Thirty Years On

Written by Christina Mereu, Volunteer

Living well to the very end of life is a hope for everyone. When we stop and think about it and bravely step into conversations with loved ones about our wishes, we are taking steps toward easing our minds and hearts and taking action toward “getting our affairs in order”. It is not uncommon to hear folks say they want to die a peaceful death at home with loved ones surrounding them. But what does it take to actually achieve that outcome…Bruce Peninsula Hospice (BPH) knows what it takes with close to 30 years of experience behind them.

Thirty years ago folks living in the Lion’s Head area dared to imagine a volunteer service that would help peninsula residents receive hospice care. The vision was to train hospice palliative care volunteers and to offer support for those needing and wanting care. Those founding members…Pat Horner, Bob Welch, Lynda Hoita and many others had a vision and a passionate determination that was actualized. All these years later Bruce Peninsula Hospice continues to serve local residents and their families.

When you or a loved one is ill and a cure may not be possible, the journey ahead is profound and uniquely yours. Comfort is essential to quality of life and the care needed is complex…medically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and socially. The final journey may take weeks, months or even years. The circle of care may involve family, friends, medical professionals, paid support workers and community volunteers. Caring for a loved one at home takes time, patience, stamina, organization, knowledge of services and a deep, deep well of compassion. Bruce Peninsula Hospice understands that the availability of community services for support lightens the burden.

Visiting volunteers with Bruce Peninsula Hospice are trained and uniquely prepared to help. They become a vital member of your circle of care providing comfort, a compassionate presence, a listening ear and offer much needed respite for primary care givers. The vision of those early founders has grown with experience and the vitality of its visiting volunteers requires strong administrative support with an active Board of Directors, working committees, stable funding and fundraising efforts, on-going training, quality assurance and compliance with its accreditation body, Hospice Palliative Care Ontario.

That is what it takes to provide care at home. Deep hearts and a myriad of skilled care providers throughout our rural communities covering the entire peninsula. The services of BPH are but one example of how local people are helping local people be well and live well to the very end of life. If you are able and would like to give your time and commitment to volunteering, you are encouraged to apply. Specific skills and experience are needed on the Board of Directors, on committees, in the office and with client care.

“The original impetus for hospice work in this area is as valid today as it was in 1992. People know in our area that hospice service is part of being a caring community. We are continuing to strive to be true to the original vision of people helping people at a difficult time.” (Shirley Bruer, Founding Chair). Much has changed over thirty years and our stretched health care network is working on over drive. The role of community partnerships and trained volunteers is needed now more than ever.

Bruce Peninsula Hospice is a non-profit, community hospice providing home visiting and bereavement support services in the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula, The Town of South Bruce Peninsula and the adjacent area of Georgian Bluffs. Call 519-534-1260 x 5612 or visit for more information.