An Cala Palliative Care Unit

The An Cala Palliative Care Unit opened in 2008. It is a nine bed acute care unit located on the fourth floor of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. An Cala is Gaelic for safe harbour – and that is what is found here — a safe haven and a place of comfort. The Society provides computers, Internet access, televisions, a kitchen and family room, along with shower and laundry facilities for families who are staying with a palliative care patient. One family member says she would forget she was in a hospital because An Cala became home to her while she stayed with her husband during his final month. The Society stocks the kitchen with supplies for the volunteers who then create wonderful baked goods such as cookies, tea biscuits and cinnamon rolls. “Cape Bretoners gather in kitchens,” explains one volunteer. “Make it as comfortable as possible with a treat and a cup of tea.” The Society also maintains a library on the unit, with resources on hospice palliative care and also with novels for use by patients and family members.

An Cala staff foster an uplifting atmosphere of tranquility and joy. For them, palliative care means allowing as much laughter as possible into a difficult time. “We celebrate a lot,” laughs Michelle Curtis, the lead Clinical Nurse. “We strive to keep a patient’s quality of life at a maximum.” She says whether it’s St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas, or a quiet Tuesday in February, they find positive aspects of life to celebrate and share with the patients and their families. The Society and the Palliative Care staff work in a remarkable partnership.

An Cala Unit has nine beds, but there are at times more than 200 people in the district receiving palliative care, spread out in other hospital units, in long-term care facilities and in personal homes. Palliative Care staff — nurses, doctors, social workers – travel to where the palliative patients are and provide them with the services and care required.

To support and promote compassionate care for individuals and their loved ones who are living with a life-threatening illness.