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Caring Across the Miles

Carol Anne Patterson remembers the experience of helping to care for her neighbour who was receiving palliative care at home in 1997.

Originally from Sydney, Carol Ann lives just outside San Fransico in California. “My experience in Sydney was nothing like it was in California, and I know will not be replicated here.”

Carol Anne’s mom, Anne Currie, spent three months living in Hospice Cape Breton. Carol Anne says it was the best and worst experience of her life. Like many of us, travel plans were cancelled because of COVID-19, so the California to Cape Breton visits were put on hold. When Carol Anne did see her mom, it was frightening, as her illness had progressed considerably. Not knowing where to turn, Carol Anne left a tearful message with the palliative care service. A house-call soon followed by the family doctor, and Anne was transported to the An Cala Unit at Cape Breton Regional Hospital. She was then transferred to Hospice Cape Breton where Carol Anne says “she was treated like a queen.” Carol Anne says everyone connected with the hospice was amazing. “They all loved my mom, and she felt every bit of that affection,” says Carol Anne. From Dr. Anne Frances D’Intino to the volunteers and staff, Carol Anne says
they all have a special aura about them. “In this building, we lived everyday” says Carol Anne. They cared for my mom beyond measure.” She points to the birthday celebration for her mom, as a highlight, and is grateful for the fact that her mother’s needs were met at every turn. She says her mom felt heard, and that’s so important. Carol Anne is also grateful for the gift music therapist Jill Murphy gave her. Jill told her mother’s story through an original song to ensure Anne’s story lives on. Carol Anne can also hear her mom say “I love you” with a touch of a button.

After three months, Carol Anne had to return to California, for her son’s graduation from university. Knowing that this might be the last time she saw her mother, it was made easier knowing her mom was in hospice, that she was well cared for and that she was safe. Distance does not make saying goodbye easier, and the staff at hospice understood the need to stay connected with the family. Anne Currie was able to watch her grandson graduate cum laude from the University of San Diego and was able to face time with her family frequently.

Carol Anne says hospice is so important for the patient, but it’s also for the entire family. “It’s a building full of love and light,” she says. “They really did add life to her days and in turn made our journey easier.”