Hospice supporters start funding search
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Dec 11, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Hospice supporters start funding search

Stratford Gazette

Jeff Heuchert editor@stratfordgazette.com

Supporters for a residential palliative care hospice in Stratford knows there's a need in the community for a home-like setting where individuals can receive end-of-life care. Now they just need to find the money to make it happen.

According to Andy Werner, a member of the steering committee behind the project, a 10-bed hospice like his group is proposing will require an approximate $6 million capital campaign to get off the ground. That includes $4 million for land, construction, and equipment, and an additional $1.2 million reserve to help offset operating costs during its first few years.

The committee last month made a request for operational funding to the South West Local Health Integration Network. Under the current system, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care funds stand-alone residential hospices on a per-bed basis.

But Werner says the province's share would account for only about 60 per cent of the $1.5 million it's estimated the hospice will cost to operate annually. He notes, however, that the province is in the process of reviewing its funding formula and might increase its per-bed allocation to around 80 per cent.

"We're crossing our fingers and hoping for the best," he adds.

Werner says the committee is committed to creating a sustainable hospice by developing partnerships, collocating with other agencies, using a robust base of volunteers, and by leveraging technology.

The steering committee carried out a needs and feasibility study earlier this year with seed funding from The Rotary Club of Stratford.

Werner says Statistics Canada shows there are more than 12,000 people aged 65-plus living in Perth County, almost half of whom are here in Stratford, and that according to Ministry of Finance projections, that number will jump by 60 per cent over the next 20 years.

The study identified a shortage of personal care workers and determined that a residential hospice is needed to fill in the service gaps in the continuum of end-of-life care in the Stratford and Perth County area.

"Most people if given the choice would want to die in their own homes. But this is only possible when there is good caregiver support in the home," says Werner, who notes the alternative for an terminally ill person is to go to the nearest residential hospice, which is Sakura House in Woodstock, or to the hospital in Stratford, where he says there are no specialty nurses for palliative patients and no palliative physicians.

Being able to move these individuals into a hospice would free up acute care beds for acute care patients and reduce hospital wait times, he adds.

Werner also suggests a hospice would make sense fiscally, noting the province spends twice as much on an acute care bed versus a hospice bed.

Fundraising for the residential hospice is just in its infancy, but donations are being accepted now through The Rotary Club of Stratford. Additionally, Werner says that Andrea Page of the Stratford General Hospital Foundation and Ryan Erb of the United Way will be lending their expertise to the campaign.

The group has also applied for Trillium funding to support the development phase of the project.

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