In October 1986, after two years of discussions, the Niagara-on-the-Lake Community Palliative Care Service was founded by a group of dedicated citizens of our town. Thanks to the local hospital, we were given space in the old Nurses’ Residence next to the hospital for a very minimal rent. Today it still houses our office, board room, library, equipment room and the family studio apartment. Our apartment, where out-of-town family members of our clients can stay, was originally equipped with money donated by the Niagara-on-the-Lake Hospital Auxiliary and St. Andrews Church.
In 1987 we had our first small group of visiting volunteers graduate from training and start helping the seriously-ill and their families in Niagara-on-the-Lake. From these young roots we have grown into an organization with up to 25 visiting volunteers and up to a 15-member volunteer Board made up of a cross-section of professionals and citizens representing most of the disciplines involved in delivering hospice palliative care locally. We have a wide variety of equipment to lend to our clients, a well-stocked library of books, CD’s and DVD’s. Paid staff consists of a part-time Program Coordinator and a part-time Office Assistant. We have expanded our programs to offer a weekly Visiting Volunteer Program at the 3 long term care facilities in Niagara-on-the-Lake and both a Phone Bereavement Program and a Bereavement Support Group Program. Our equipment inventory has increased, not only in quantity but in variety of equipment offered. In the beginning we were funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and, more recently, the Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand, Brant Local Health Integration Network (HNHB LHIN). The majority of our funding is through the Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand, Brant Local Health Integration Network (HNHB LHIN). However, we are so fortunate to live in a generous community. We also benefit from donations from local Service Clubs, Churches, the Shaw Foundation, and the Foster Hewitt Foundation to name a few. One of our local furniture stores, Walls Brand Source, stores our three lift-recliner chairs and delivers and picks up the chairs for our clients at a very minimal fee to us.
Throughout the years we have been able to maintain our “no-charge” policy for all our services – whether it is volunteers, equipment, bereavement support or apartment use. Everything we do is with strict confidentiality.
We remain a vibrant organization dedicated to helping the residents of Niagara-on-the-Lake and their families to cope with life-threatening illnesses through compassionate care. We are strong proponents of hospice palliative care, offering individualized care that stresses living fully until the very end of life, with dignity and in comfort. It is this approach that helps to make a very difficult life passage more manageable and more meaningful.