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By Mike Pickford
One of the most unique, yet necessary community service organizations in the region is looking to get its name out there in the hopes of enticing more Dufferin area residents to take advantage of its programming.
Hospice Dufferin has been servicing the local community for the best part of a decade. With permanent locations in both Orangeville and Shelburne, the organization is well-equipped to meet the needs of those in the community who require them most, that according to Natalie Talma, Hospice Dufferin's sole social worker.
Making up one half of Hospice Dufferin's “small but mighty” team of two full-time employees, Ms. Talma told the Citizen about all the important services the organization provides to the community in a sit-down interview at its head office in the Edelbrock Centre in Orangeville.
“I think the first, and probably most important thing to note, is that we're classed as a community visiting hospice with a bit of a different scope for treating people,” Ms. Talma said. “We don't have a residential facility specifically for end-of-life care – we are a visiting hospice, which means we go out into the community and help people wherever they're located.”
She added, “In terms of programs, we offer a lot of one-on-one support to people. Myself, as a social worker, I provide counselling to patients and families, but we also help with other things such as advocacy and education in securing funding and working closely with patient's circle of care to make sure they're well taken care of.”
One of the things that really sets Hospice Dufferin apart from its fellow patient care providers is the fact that they are willing to help anyone who feels they need that extra layer of support, regardless of what stage they're at in their illness.
“One of the first things I learned upon joining this organization is just how different it is when it comes to treating patients,” Ms. Talma said. “One of the things that we're most proud of and what we believe makes us distinct from other hospices is that we don't require a prognosis of less than a year [of life] to be eligible for our programs.”
She added, “We support people at any stage of the illness experience, right from the time of diagnosis.”
Hospice Dufferin currently assists roughly 400 people per year, although Ms. Talma indicated the organization could service up to four times that number if the demand were there.
“I think the biggest obstacle we have at Hospice Dufferin right now is just trying to educate people on who we are and what we do. I still believe there's this anxiety whenever people hear the word hospice, but that doesn't need to be the case.
“People do generally associate the word hospice with the typical end-of-life care, and while that is a portion of what we do, it is exactly that, a portion. Coming to see us and asking for our support does not mean that your disease is going to end your life.”
With a wealth of different wellness programs and support groups in place, as well as specialized one-on-one initiatives such as Hospice Dufferin's Legacy Program and Volunteer Visiting Program, there's lots available for those in the community looking for an extra layer of support as they deal with their illness.
Listed as a non-profit organization, Hospice Dufferin is tasked with coming up with 75 percent of its annual budget through various local fundraising initiatives, with the other 25 percent supplied by the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). As such, the organization relies heavily on its “amazing” core group of volunteers, who help out in various different roles.
“We have an amazing group of volunteers that work in so many different capacities – some like to work with clients, some with fundraising and some with our general organizational governance,” Ms. Talma said. “Those last few are our board members. They do so much work behind the scenes to enable us to do what we do and help the people that we help.”
While she was quick to commend the group of volunteers Hospice Dufferin currently has in place, she noted the organization is always on the lookout for more people to get involved and lend a hand wherever they can.
“We can never have too many people, there are lots of opportunities here for people that want to help out,” Ms. Talma said. “If you have a passion for governance, fundraising and marketing – maybe there's a place for you on our board of directors. If you enjoy interacting with people in a one-on-one format, there are opportunities both in office and in visiting our extensive client base in the community.”
In closing, Ms. Talma noted, “Our primary focus here in Dufferin County is to ensure we're supporting folks to live their life fully in the face of illness. We provide a very positive approach to the illness experience in the sense that we focus in on the quality of life and do what we can to help the patient make this time meaningful and purposeful. I don't think that's a service that's readily available anywhere else in the community.”
For more information on Hospice Dufferin, visit www.hospicedufferin.com.
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