The City of St. Catharines has strengthened its commitment to make hospice palliative care more accessible for people and families across Niagara.
Funding to support the proposed expansion of Hospice Niagara’s services through two new Hospice Palliative Care Centres of Excellence was approved in principle at the St. Catharines City Council meeting on Monday.
Councillors voted unanimously to approve in principle an investment of $646,351 over five years to create 20 new hospice palliative care beds in the region. The City’s contribution amount is contingent on other municipalities as well as Niagara Region providing their portion of the required capital funds.
“We commend the City of St. Catharines for leading the way among municipalities in Niagara to ensure that hospice palliative care is available for generations to come,” said Carol Nagy, executive director of Hospice Niagara.
“People across the entire region benefit from hospice palliative care. All of our municipalities and the region recognize the importance and need to expand these services. Their support will make this planning a reality.”
Since 1993, Hospice Niagara has been helping people and families live well from the time of diagnosis with a terminal illness, through to end-of-life care and bereavement. Programs and services are free of cost and support people in their homes, in the community and in the hospice residence.
Niagara is significantly underserved in terms of hospice bed capacity and community palliative care services, based on its overall population and its high percentage of seniors. While Ontario’s Auditor General recommends capacity of seven to 10 hospice beds per population of 100,000, Niagara has a hospice bed count of less than half that number at three beds per 100,000 residents.
The two proposed Hospice Palliative Care Centres will be operated by Hospice Niagara and colocated alongside Foyer Richelieu, a bilingual long-term care home in Welland, and Gilmore Lodge, a long-term care home in Fort Erie.
Each of the centres would provide a home-like setting with 10 private rooms for people and their families to spend quality time during the final stages of life. As well, the expansion would make Hospice Niagara’s programs and services — including bereavement care for children, teenagers and adults and community day programs for people living at home — accessible to more people and families across the region.
In addition to several community palliative care programs and services, Hospice Niagara operates a 10-bed hospice in St. Catharines, which serves people and families across Niagara.
Provided Hospice Niagara secures full approval from the Ministry of Health, construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2021, with an opening in late 2023.
In the meantime, Hospice Niagara is planning a capital fundraising campaign to raise the necessary public funds to support the project. In October, Walker Industries pledged to donate $1.5 million to this campaign in order to bring hospice palliative care closer to home.