Wellness | Mental Health, Physical Health
Wellness | Mental Health, Physical Health
Community Connections | Aging Population

Alberta Hospice Palliative Care Association

AHPCA promotes and supports comprehensive and quality hospice palliative care for all Albertans.

Our Story

Why We Exist

A bomb exploded in Ed and Anne’s life: terminal cancer. Without treatment, Ed could expect to live three months. The active couple and their close-knit family were devastated. Typically strong and independent, Ed retreated into hopelessness and fear. Anne, her world collapsing, followed him.

Their daughter, Liz, felt helpless to provide the extensive support her parents needed. When she told her doctor about her dad’s diagnosis, she hit a jackpot of information. Her family doctor spent a few days each week working in a hospice. Liz learned that with early palliative care, people with a terminal illness live longer and stay at home longer than otherwise. Her doctor was sure that Ed could remain comfortable for the rest of his life, first at home and then in a hospice.

Ed and Anne were not ready to hear anything about hospice or palliative care. The stigma of those words was too strong. “We are not at that stage yet.” To Ed and Anne, palliative care and hospice meant imminent death.

Ed chose chemotherapy, not to cure but to shrink the tumours to decrease his discomfort. He started right before Christmas and launched into weeks of physical and emotional misery. After weeks of white-knuckling through life, Ed and Anne asked their oncologist about palliative care. With those magic words the world opened up to them.

They were assigned a palliative oncologist who understood that treatment must be dictated by how Ed wanted to live his life. Ed was in complete control. Every week, Ed and Anne received comfort, support, reassurance and laughs when their palliative care nurse visited them at home. The nurse sent an occupational therapist to the house to ensure Ed could stay there comfortably and safely, with a few modifications. Soon, a palliative reflexologist was visiting Ed at home, providing welcome relief for the tingling numbness Ed felt in his feet due to chemotherapy. The entire family, including Ed and Anne’s kids and grandchildren could access counselling. In a move that was completely out of character for this independent, no-nonsense couple, Ed and Anne started attending a weekly support group. Even more surprising: they made friends and had fun! Life had shifted from mere survival back into a new type of normal.

With the support of his palliative care team, Ed kept making and meeting his goals. He travelled to enjoy one last Thanksgiving at the family cabin. He sat at the table for another Christmas dinner. He rang in the New Year, 15 months after his diagnosis.

The decision to leave home and enter hospice was gut-wrenching but comforting for both Ed and his family. Ed’s highest priority was his family’s well-being and he knew they would be supported in hospice. His family wanted Ed to be comfortable and safe. Warm care permeated the family’s six days at the hospice, until Ed’s peaceful death.

Ed lived a good life to the end because he was brave enough to speak those scary words: palliative care. And he said them to a doctor who knew what to do.

Why does AHPCA exist?

  • We raise public awareness of hospice palliative care, so people like Ed and Anne aren’t scared to ask about it.
  • We support professionals and volunteers to provide good quality hospice and palliative care, so people like Ed and Anne’s oncologists, nurses, occupational therapists, reflexologists, and volunteers can do their best.
  • We help people, like Ed and Anne, access good quality hospice palliative care services, with our Resource Directory.

Our Impact

What We Do

AHPCA supports professionals and volunteers to help them provide good quality hospice palliative care. How do we do that?

  1. Roadshows   Every year AHPCA runs a series of full-day workshops on palliative care training and development. Over 2,700 Albertans have attended Roadshow over the past eight years.
  2. Scholarships  AHPCA grants an annual scholarship to a minimum of two volunteers who work in palliative care, to enable them to further their education and training. Volunteers are the backbone of palliative care and need to be supported.
  3. Awards  AHPCA grants an annual award to an individual who is an unpaid palliative caregiver. The work of informal palliative caregivers is vital to the independence and dignity of the people they help.
  4. Imagine Conferences  Every year, AHPCA hosts a conference for hospice palliative care organizations from across Alberta to learn about palliative care issues, share developments from their communities, and connect with each other to strengthen the network. Typically, about 50 people attend from 25 different organizations.

AHPCA helps people access good quality hospice palliative care services. How do we do that?

  1. Resource Directory  AHPCA maintains an online directory of Alberta-wide palliative care services, accessible to anyone.
  2. LIFE Videos  We recognize that not everyone has immediate access to services to help them cope with the natural stresses associated with hospice palliative care. AHPCA created a series of short videos on topics like vicarious trauma and caregiver burnout, meant to provide answers and support to anybody at any time.

AHPCA raises public and political awareness of hospice palliative care. How?

  1. Events Calendar  The AHPCA online calendar tracks upcoming educational opportunities and local events.
  2. Social Media  AHPCA promotes those upcoming events on our social media channels. We also highlight relevant news and articles relating to hospice palliative care issues.
  3. Government Relations  We liase with the provincial government and make recommendations that recognize the importance of supporting hospice palliative care in Alberta.
  4. Marketing Education  We facilitated a webinar to empower hospice groups to market and promote themselves.

Our Programs

How We Do It

Roadshows have educated over 2,700 people on hospice palliative care topics.

The Jean Stone Scholarship provides up to $500 for at least two palliative care volunteers to further their education in the field.

The Dr. Donna Wilson Caregiver Award provides a recognition of $500 to an unpaid caregiver who contributes the independence and dignity of the person they help, through their compassion and perseverance.

The annual Imagine Conference unites grassroots hospice groups, who usually work in isolation, to learn together and network.

AHPCA’s Resource Directory helps palliative patients and caregivers find the help they need.

Our LIFE videos (Learning Insights for Everyday) and Relaxation Moment videos help palliative caregivers, family, friends and patients take time out for self-care.

The AHPCA Events Calendar tells people about upcoming palliative events.

The AHPCA Facebook page and Twitter feed promotes palliative educational events and relevant articles about hospice palliative care.

Our marketing webinar targeting hospice palliative care groups.

 

Our Requests

What You Can Do

There are several ways you can support the Alberta Hospice Palliative Care Association.

AHPCA needs support for our programs and educational conferences through financial donations.

Volunteer. We need people to help us keep our Resource Directory up-to-date.

Become a member of AHPCA to become better informed about hospice palliative care issues.

Join one of AHPCA’s board committees (governance, communications, fundraising, fund development or membership).

Become a Board member.

Follow AHPCA on Facebook or Twitter.

Videos

Stay Connected

Contact

Jennifer Elliott

Executive Director

403 206 9938

Charitable Number: 891458373RR0001

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