This past week we heard from Monica Robson, the Executive Director of the Pilgrim’s Hospice Society. The hospice was founded in Edmonton in 1994 by Dr. Helen Hays and Marion Boyd. They offer hospice services including a Day Program, Grief Support for both individuals and groups to adults, teens, children and families. They also have the new twelve bed Harold Roozen Family Hospice Center, a residential hospice which opened this year. They are a registered charity that is ninety seven percent funded by donations. Their day program is supported by Alberta Health Services, which comprises three percent of their overall funding. They are governed by a Board of Directors. In addition to their professional staff they rely on trained volunteers for many different functions. They also have five physicians working with them who work in the facility as well as doing home visits. All of their programs are free to participants. They are located in west Edmonton near 148 St and 98 Ave.

Monica told us that most people would prefer to die at home, but in Alberta about sixty percent of people die in hospital. Most people need some level of 24/7 care in their final days and this is very hard to provide at home. A hospice which sits between home and hospital care can provide a residential atmosphere while still providing the nursing and health care aide support needed. She said that they rely on the same criteria as AHS for admissions, but they are not part of the AHS hub system. They keep their own waiting list, take direct referrals and make their own decisions on admissions.  She said that quality of life should also include death.  Families need room to grieve and they do their best to assist this. They firmly believe in the principle that no one dies alone. She then showed us a video of the new hospice facility through the eyes of a family with a family member who was a resident of the facility.  We would like to thank Monica for her very interesting and moving presentation.