Rochelle Smith

One Step Closer

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Thanks to the exceptional efforts by the Rotary Clubs of CBRM’s Sydney Ribfest 2016, the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton was the recipient of $70,000 donated by generous Cape Bretoners who “Gave a Little at the Gate” and the support of the four CBRM Rotary Clubs. Gate proceeds amounted to almost  $47,000 and the balance of $23,000 was contributed by the Rotary Clubs in addition to planning, staging and running Ribfest. This amount exceeds the total of $55,000 raised in 2015 for a combined total of $125,000 to be directed toward the planned Hospice Residence.

Sydney Ribfest 2016 offered and delivered something enjoyable for all ages. The 2016 theme of “more” – more food, more entertainment, and more children’s activities, was met with great enthusiasm by visitors to Open Hearth Park on July 15, 16 and 17. The new venue proved to be a great site allowing for expanded offerings and will be home to next year’s event as well. Ribbers cited Sydney Rotary Ribfest as one of the best east of Montreal and have decided to add a sixth Ribber to next year’s event.

The Society thanks all volunteers from Rotary as well as the more than 60 individuals who also volunteered to work the gate over three days. With community support such as that seen at Ribfest, the Hospice Residence will soon be a reality and not a dream. Thank you all!








A Successful Weekend for Sunflower Treasures

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Sunflower Treasures, a pop-up shop, was a temporary store set up in support of the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton County. The shop opened its doors on April 29 and continued throughout the weekend until May 1, 2016. The shop sold pre-loved items that were generously donated by community members.

The idea for a pop-up shop originated to generate additional income that would support the work of the Society. In many communities nationally and internationally, a “Hospice Shop” is a permanent store that most often sells donated second hand goods of all kinds in support of Hospices and is a popular model around the world. The Hospice Shoppe, which is located in St John, New Brunswick, describes their shop as an “upscale resale experience”.

These existing Hospice Shops inspired a group of local volunteers to conduct preliminary research that would determine whether or not the concept would be advantageous to initiate in Cape Breton. Under the leadership of Cheryl Read, core committee members, Catherine Schaller, Frances Butler and Suzanne Merner looked into costs, locations, and population numbers. They also prepared a feasibility study and looked at other Hospice shops, developed questionnaires and talked with experienced hospice shop organizers to gather as much information as possible.

After analysis, discussion, and research, the committee then reached out to CBU marketing professor, Dr. Elaine MacNeil. She came on board and conducted a marketing study. MacNeil was the perfect fit for the task because she is a self-declared avid thrift shopper and knows the local market.

Through MacNeil’s findings, the group realized that the Hospice Society is not yet ready for a permanent shop. However, it was recommended they try an experimental “pop-up shop”. The committee then determined that they would follow through with this option and name it Sunflower Treasures.

The next step was to create a plan. The shop’s dates were strategic and were set to align with the arrival of a cruise ship, spring cleaning season, and National Hospice Week. Execution of the plan took a great deal of manpower and would not have been possible without the 72 volunteers who contributed in multiple ways and worked tirelessly before and during and after the chosen weekend.

The key to making the event successful was drawing upon on the expertise of community volunteers with relevant retail experience. For example, “stagers”, Jane MacDonald, a former manager of Yazer’s Men’s Wear, and her sister-in-law Anne Morrow, who displays great talent weekly with the Hospice “flower lady” program, staged all of the donated items to look organized and most importantly, desirable for purchase and easy to select. Other volunteers sorted, washed, prepped and priced the items, and the stagers presented everything in a variety of displays that made the shopping experience pleasant and easy.

Items donated to the shop included a wide range of pre-loved items such as purses, scarves, jewelry, collectibles, quilting fabrics, books, artwork, china and house hold items. One family donated 28 Hummel figurines. These German figurines have significant retail value and were worth a considerable sum of money. These treasures, along with so many others, were quickly purchased by eager shoppers over the three day period. By Sunday, the shop was almost completely sold out. Weekend best sellers included books, jewelry, and purses. Teacups were also a hot item with hundreds going to new homes!

The committee worked closely with members of the Hospice Society executive for several months to create an achievable plan. The time frame for work within the shop itself was 3 weeks to organize items, 3 days to establish the shop, and 3 hours to take everything down.

The community support experienced was nothing short of amazing. Many people who donated items also come back to shop. There was a mixed demographic of shoppers including knowledgeable thrift shoppers as well as those who are new to the thrift-shop scene. Age groups varied and everyone seemed to leave with at least one treasure.

The outcome of Sunflower Treasures, a pop-up shop, was one of great success. It raised awareness of the Society’s work and contributed slightly over $13,000 that will support patients and families who face life threatening illnesses within the Palliative Care Service, both at home community and on the An Cala Unit. There are typically 250 patients in the care of the Service at any given time and the needs are as unique as the patients themselves. The Society is most appreciative of all of the volunteers, donors, and shoppers who brought Sunflower Treasures to life and saw it thrive for all the right reasons.

Special thanks must be extended to the extraordinary group who investigated , explored options and created an incredibly successful event. Members included Chair, Cheryl Read, Suzanne Merner, Catherine Schaller, Frances Butler, Dale Orychock, Nancy Dingwall and Patricia Jackson.

Volunteer Perspective – Bruce Tizzard

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Volunteering with Hospice has given me a purpose – a reason for being here. I came to Hospice late in my life, but had I known it was going to be so rewarding, I would have jumped at the opportunity long ago.

During the past year I have met some beautiful souls. Being told you have a limited time remaining on this earth is daunting, to say the least. Having to deal with this alone is unthinkable. As volunteers, we are here to listen. In my experience, I have found that a gentle touch and listening makes the patients comfortable. I want the patients to know and feel that they matter to me, because the only thing we really own is the love we give away and love is what a patient takes with them when they die. As volunteers, we connect with families as well. For them, this has to be the worst of times. Where do they go from here when all of a sudden their world as they know it comes tumbling down around them? I know very little about death, but I know that life must go on, and grief and sadness are part of the journey and it too, must be handled with care and love.

I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve others. Those who have the strength and the love to sit with a dying patient in the silence that goes beyond words, will know that this moment is neither frightening nor painful, but a peaceful cessation of the functioning of the body. It reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that ares up for a brief moment.


RibFest to return for summer of 2016

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Bigger and better is the promise when the second edition of Sydney RibFest returns this summer.

Details of the event hosted by the Rotary Clubs of Cape Breton Regional Municipality were released on Monday morning at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre.

This year, the event will be held from July 15-17 at Open Hearth Park, after a successful launch in 2015 on the Sydney waterfront.

Five North American rib teams will return for the weekend — Silver Bullet, Camp 31, Billy Bones BBQ and Cabby’s BBQ Shack.

They’ll be joined by Texas Rangers, a team in competition since 2006.

Last year, an estimated 25,000 people took in RibFest in Sydney and organizers are hoping to top that number this year.

More to come.

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Students Helping Hospice

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My name is Rochelle Smith and I am currently a Public Relations student at Nova Scotia Community College Marconi Campus. I initially showed interest in working with the Hospice Palliative Care Society after being assigned a project at school to create a communications plan for a non-profit organization. When I first met with a Board representative from the Society, I learned how they advocate for patients and families facing life-limiting illness in hospital and the community. It provided me with a clear idea of how important the society is.

Following that, I attended a monthly PR committee meeting, at which time a classmate – BJ Bresson – joined me on the project. Hearing from PR committee members, their passion was evident and it inspired us to create a plan that they could consider for implementation. We knew that in order to do that, we would take a further step and include a research component.

My classmate and I determined that our goal for the Society would be to raise awareness among a younger demographic (ages 20-29). We believe that individuals within this target group do not have a high level of awareness and we want those within our age demographic to gain awareness of how valuable the Society’s work is.

We completed a communications plan and presented our research findings and strategies to the Public Relations Committee. They were open to our ideas and valued our interest in the Society. I hope that the Hospice Society will continue to have the opportunity to provide comfort and care to patients and their loved ones in our community. I now consider myself to be a friend of Hospice and I look forward to helping in any way in the future!

Hospice Website

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Over the past year, the Society has been working on a new website to share the good work of staff, volunteers, board members and committee endeavours. The site launched in the fall of 2015 with content that offers uplifting stories of patients and families. It also highlights the exceptional working relationship between the Hospice Palliative Care Society and the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Palliative Care Service. The site showcases annual events, celebrates community support and much more. The new responsive website functions on all devices allowing the community to easily access information.


The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

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Sydney hospice residence the ‘missing piece of the puzzle’

Article: Laura Jean Grant, Cape Breton Post

SYDNEY — If a hospice residence becomes reality it would lift some of the pressure off the acute care system, according to a local palliative-care physician.


Dr. Anne Frances D’Intino said Cape Breton’s demographics — a growing elderly population and a shrinking younger population — mean that many people requiring end-of-life care are ending up in acute care beds, simply because they don’t have family members in the immediate area to care for them at home.

“Many elderly patients arrive in acute-care hospital and would like to go to a home-like setting but can’t go home again and so they spend their last weeks to months of life in acute care beds,” she said. “The hospice fulfils the missing piece of the puzzle because the hospice would provide that end-of-life care in a home-like setting for those who would wish to be at home at end-of-life but cannot because of lack of available caregivers or care needs that outstrip what a caregiver can provide.”

Last week, the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton County announced a partnership with BCA Group and Membertou, in which the three organizations are now working together toward the establishment of a 10-bed residential hospice.

D’Intino, a hospice society board member, said such a facility would allow the nine-bed acute care An Cala palliative-care unit in the Cape Breton Regional Hospital to function more the way it was originally designed.

“The An Cala palliative-care unit was always meant to be an acute pain and symptom management unit so patients could come there to have their pain and symptoms controlled and then return to their preferred setting of care,” she explained. “In most cases, this was never meant to be a hospice, it was never end-of-life care, but it has had to take on that role because we see patients dying in (other) acute care settings where the family and patient needs more privacy, and so we move them to the An Cala unit, but that’s not what it was meant for.”

D’Intino said there are distinct differences between end-of-life care, where the focus is primarily on providing comfort, and acute care, where the focus is primarily on returning the patient to good health.

“We think that an acute care bed is not the best place for people who are at end-of-life. We know that care can be provided in a much more cost-effective way in a hospice where the focus of care is comfort,” she said.

With Membertou committed to providing land for the residential hospice, and the BCA Group set to raise the money needed for construction of it, the local hospice society is hoping the provincial government will now sign on to the project and agree to fund the facility’s annual operating costs.

“The one piece we need is for the Department of Health and the Nova Scotia Health Authority to take on the operational budget so that the care can be provided in the hospice,” said D’Intino. “There’s no question in my mind that it would be an incredible step forward for excellence in end-of-life care for our community.”

Getting to Know Members of Our Palliative Care Team

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In honour of National Hospice Palliative Care Week (May 1-7), the Cape Breton Post is recognizing members of our local palliative care team in Getting to Know features throughout the month of May.

Getting to Know: Anne Morrow 

Anne is one of the volunteers with the flower program, which began more than 20 years ago and still has some of its original volunteers. The “Flower Ladies” meet each week, make up small flower arrangements and deliver them to those in the palliative care service.

To view complete Cape Breton Post article click here