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Local hospice society recognized as a leader

TRURO - A community-driven society is starting to be recognized internationally for the work it has done.

Craig Johnson, executive director of the Colchester East Hants Hospice Society, is busy planning for National Hospice-Palliative Care Week, which runs May 3 to 9. The society will host You'll Die Laughing with Ron James on May 8.

Craig Johnson, the executive director for the Colchester East Hants Hospice Society, said the local society is among the leaders being used as models by the Quality End of Life Care Coalition of Canada and the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association.

"The Way Forward shows ways how hospice societies can improve across Canada, and we're listed as one of the examples, next to British Columbia, New Zealand, Australia and England," said Johnson. "It's kind of interesting."

Johnson said the society has been very successful over the years, and he credits community support for that success.

"Through donations, grants and third-party service groups ... that's what's driving us. We have no government support. We have no operational funding from the government."

From May 3 to 9, the local society will be celebrating National Hospice-Palliative Care Week, with the theme being The Power of 10.

"The idea is that if we talk to 10 people we know - family, friends, coworkers - about the cause itself and the issues, that those 10 people will share it, and so on," said Johnson.

"The community has built us. Through donations and requests, this is something the people have decided is important to the community."

The society offers numerous programs and services, including a palliative social worker, and a grief or bereavement social worker.

"A lot of the resources we do provide, people often find that when they're dealing with grief or end of life for the first time, they don't know where to turn or how to navigate the system. We've got booklets on grief and what to expect at the end of care, social workers and counseling services for free. We have an excellent palliative care team as well," he said.

One of the biggest challenges the society faces, however, is keeping funding on pace with the demands, which are continuously on the increase.

The society operates on about $350,000 a year on its staff and delivering programs.

"We can't have counseling without counselors," said Johnson.

The unique Food From the Heart program, which sees gift cards for local grocery stores given to those facing end of life, costs about $40,000 each year.

The society also helps when people need equipment, such as bed lifts.

"We've got a great body of volunteers, and without them, we wouldn't be able to do what we do," said Johnson, adding the work the volunteers with the palliative care unit do wouldn't be affordable if the society had to pay for the services.

During National Hospice-Palliative Care Week, comedian Ron James will headline the third annual You'll Die Laughing event on May 8.

The society is also raffling off an autographed Calgary Flames jersey, donated by a Truro native now working for the Flames, in memory of his grandmother.

Tickets for the jersey are $5 and can be purchased at the Colchester East Hants Hospice Society office at 89 Queen St., Truro.

For more information on the society, call 902-893-3265 or visit the office.

Twitter: @TDNRaissa


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