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Ground broken on hospice expansion

The sod has been turned on the $1-million expansion of the Marjorie Willoughby Snowden Memorial Hospice Home in Sahali.
Hospice groundbreaking
From left, Gordon Davis, Tod Cooper, Nelly Dever, Wendy Barlow and Dennis Coates breaking ground at the city’s hospice home.

The sod has been turned on the $1-million expansion of the Marjorie Willoughby Snowden Memorial Hospice Home in Sahali.

The 4,000-square-foot expansion won’t involve additional beds beyond the 12 already there, but will add new space for workshops and counselling.

“Since I’ve been here for six years, people always say ‘do you need more beds?’ and my go-to answer is it depends which day you ask me,” said executive director Wendy Marlow.

“On Friday, our beds were full. Today, we have five empty beds.”

Marlow said the province isn’t putting money into dedicated hospice beds but is funding hospice care — and the society wants to be able to educate those who want to be at home with their loved ones.

“Hospice care can happen anywhere. It really should happen anywhere — your home, long-term care, the hospital,” Marlow said.

A new meeting space, offices, a new board room, additional parking and a flex space for staff are all being added in the expansion, which is being funded by by the Cooper Family Foundation.

“The new building is not for extra beds, but it is there to help people in the community who want to do palliative care at home, who may need assistance with counselling, who may need assistance with spiritual therapy, but it’s an outreach program,” foundation president and CEO Nelly Dever told a small crowd that gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony Monday.

Dever said the new building will be a space where people struggling with the loss of loved ones can come for support.

Marlow said the association will conduct workshops on advanced-care planning and how to look after loved ones who are dying at home.

“We get a lot of calls from health-care groups in the community asking us to do training on palliative care or hospice care — just how to be with someone who’s dying,” Marlow said.

There will also be group counselling on site.

“Kids, teenagers, parents who’ve lost a loved one, so we want to do a lot more counselling,” she said. “What limits us today is space.”

Marlow said the hospice association conducts workshops and counselling sessions run by volunteers, but they’ve had to find space within the community to do it.

“This [expansion] allows us to do more,” Marlow said, adding the expansion will create a one-stop resource centre with all the information people need to deal with end-of-life care.

There will also be more space for counsellors, which can be accessed by anyone regardless of whether a person has a loved one staying at the hospice, Marlow said.

“We’ll bring in guest speakers when we need them and then our staff will also be doing some of the workshops, so we don’t anticipate a lot of hiring,” Marlow said.

The Cooper foundation is funding the work through the winning bid in its 2018 Wings Above Kamloops house and other donations, including some pro bono work from the project’s contractors.

“Everything from the plans to the work you see going on today right through to finishing up the grounds after is all funded by the Cooper Foundation,” Marlow said.