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.


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 

Busting the Myths

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Busting the Myths around the Palliative Approach to Care:

Myth #1: Palliative care is most appropriate for patients who will likely die within weeks.
It’s a common misperception that a palliative approach to care is for patients who are dying. In reality, taking a palliative approach means focusing on improving the quality of life, and focusing holistically on pain and symptom management for those with life limiting illnesses. It is provided in all health care settings and involves physical, psychological, social, and spiritual care.

Myth #2: Treatment stops when palliative care starts.
You may think that palliative care signals the end of chronic disease management and related treatment. In reality, some disease-oriented treatments improve symptoms and increase quality of life and therefore continue to be provided as a comfort measure.


Myth #3: Palliative care is best provided by specialists.
Some think that only specialists can provide palliative care. In reality, a palliative approach to care is part of providing comprehensive primary care and can be augmented, if required, by palliative care professionals. We believe that the palliative approach to care should be part of the skills and competencies of all health care providers who care for patients with serious life limiting illnesses.


Myth #4: Raising the topic of palliative care with patients and caregivers robs them of hope.
You may think that patients are better o not talking about palliative care. In reality, a patient does not have to be within weeks of dying to bene t from palliative care. You can start the discussion early about protecting their quality of life as long as possible, which could include clinical interventions but also means understanding what’s important to that patient. Patients can articulate what’s important to them through advance care planning—a process that encourages individuals to re ect on their values and wishes, and lets others know their future health and personal care preferences in the event that they become incapable of consenting to or refusing treatment or other care. Ask yourself this question if you are wondering when you should raise advance care planning with a patient: Would you be surprised if this patient died within 6-12 months? If you answered yes, then raising the subject with your patient is really important.



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: Alan McDonald

Alan McDonald is a retired teacher, guidance counsellor and principal, and is currently the bereavement co-ordinator for Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton.

He’s been involved with the group for 10 years and says it’s important because it is designed to support families and friends who lose a loved one while in palliative care service. He adds the feedback has been very positive and he gives much of the credit to the volunteers who devote their time and energy to palliative care.

To view complete Cape Breton Post article click here

Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton County, BCA Group and Membertou, Partner on New Hospice Facility

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The announcement was made today, May 9, 2016, that a 10-bed residential hospice facility will be built in Cape Breton.  This will be the result of a community development partnership between the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton County, BCA Group, and Membertou.

Membertou will provide land for the facility adjacent to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, and BCA Group will raise the money needed for construction of it, through its 2016-2017 community economic development investment fund (CEDIF).The hospice society will be responsible for raising approximately $1 million to furnish and fully equip the facility.

The provincial government has not yet signed on to the project, but the hospice society has submitted a proposal and business plan to Health Minister Leo Glavine and hopes the province will soon commit to funding the facility’s annual operating costs.

For more information view the Cape Breton Post article

Listen to Steve Sutherland’s (CBC Information Morning) interview with Aurelle Landry, Executive Director for the Society, and Nancy Dingwall, co-chair of the Board.  Click here

Hospice May 9               Hospice May 9 (2) (1)


Hospice May 9 (5)               Hospice May 9 (7)

(Photo credit: Membertou)