Pretty much everyone would like to die at home, in their own beds, preferably in their sleep.
But for many people, this isn’t what the future holds.
A large number of people will die in an institution of one kind or another, whether it’s a care home where they’ve been for many years or a hospital where they’ve been admitted with more recent health woes.
Neither is an ideal setting for people to die in, both for the patients themselves and their families and loved ones.
It’s an increasingly important issue as our population ages.
With the demographics of the Cowichan Valley, it’s definitely something that’s beginning to affect more and more people — neighbours, family and friends.
That’s why hospice is so important.
Hospice is different from regular care in a hospital or seniors home.
As Gretchen Hartley of Cowichan Hospice points out, privacy is a consideration for those who are dying, as well as having the space around them to accommodate loved ones who want to spend time with them at the end. There’s even the consideration that people may want to have their pets near them as they look at closing their eyes for the final time.
It’s not something to be brushed aside. For many older people, pets have become their closest companions and sources of comfort. For obvious reasons they cannot come into a hospital setting, or even into a seniors home.
This can be a serious emotional blow for someone who may be afraid or confused, or who just wants to say goodbye to a good and loyal pal.
Hartley also points out that hospice ideally allows the person to get outdoors if they wish.
For a lot of people this is really important. Not only can it be a reprieve and a distraction from dark thoughts and even pain, it is widely recognized that nature is a calming influence that can help relax people, particularly those used to spending a lot of time under the open sky rather than shut into a clinical room.
The desire for better hospice care in the Cowichan Valley is a priority that crosses all political lines.
We owe it to our loved ones to try to make the process of dying as easy as possible, with as little to be afraid of as we can.
We owe it to ourselves as well.
Someday, it could well be us needing a hospice bed.
We can’t stop death, but we can stop it from being an unnecessarily terrible experience for everyone involved. We need to keep up the fight for our own hospice facility.