Managing Hospice Simcoe during a pandemic: “For families and residents, it’s awful.”

Hospice Simcoe maximizes efforts to offer supports during unprecedented times

Hospice Simcoe Executive Director Kelly Hubbard has nothing but praise for families who are there for a dying loved one but also trying to navigate an already emotionally draining situation during a pandemic.

“We are doing are best,” said Hubbard. “The families have been so gracious. It’s very sad because they are doing this alone.”

That doesn’t mean they have been left to fend for themselves. In fact, if anything, Hubbard points out the support services offered by Hospice Simcoe are more important than ever. The alone part often comes once the loved one has died.

“The bereavement. It’s more different,” said Hubbard. “The bereaved don’t have the human contact of family and friends. They can’t be with people.”

Since Hospice Simcoe offers end-of-life care, they have a caveat regarding visitors. But there are still rules in place to keep COVID-19 from affecting anyone who is in the building.

Each resident is allowed one visitor. That person is screened for a temperature and symptoms at the entrance to the hospice. Anytime the visitor is outside the room of the resident, they must wear a mask. All staff wear a mask.

Hubbard said they have had to become flexible and creative so residents can still have contact with family and friends. Visits have become virtual using FaceTime and Zoom. Families have also come to the window of their loved one’s room.

“The windows are large and we can open them. We’re lucky all rooms are on the ground level.”

When the window is opened, physical distancing is still respected.

Hospice Simcoe’s community programs are done virtually or by phone. One-on-one and group bereavement support continues working with volunteers and clients.

Despite everything Hospice Simcoe is doing to assist families, Hubbard doesn’t sugarcoat what’s happening.

“For families and residents, it’s awful. It’s devastating. The whole situation. Death. A terminal illness. We are in a pandemic.”

To prevent the virus from entering the hospice, new admissions are screened for a negative COVID-19 swab.

Hubbard said the impact of the pandemic on fundraising efforts won’t go unnoticed. Hike for Hospice scheduled in May has been pushed back to September. The event usually raises over $100,000.

Hospice Simcoe receives about 45 per cent of its funding from government dollars. The money must be put into direct care that is clinical and salaries for nurses. $1.3 million a year must come from the community. Those funds are used for overhead, furniture, food, maintenance, hydro and salaries that are not clinical.

Hubbard said they are cutting back where they can without taking away from families and residents.