Dr. Donna Wilson Caregiver Award

Nominations are now closed for the Dr. Donna Wilson Caregiver Award.

About this Award

AHPCA created the Donna Wilson Caregiver Award in 2017, thanks to a generous donation from Walter Burchnall. The award honours current AHPCA board member, Donna Wilson, for her continued years of work in hospice, palliative and end-of-life care, and for the support she provided Walter Burchnall during his own health crisis.

Purpose

  • This annual award is given to an unpaid or informal caregiver (it could be family, friend, or relative) in the amount of $500.

Criteria

  • Nominees must live in Alberta.
  • The nominator may be an individual or group.
  • The palliative care given by the nominee took place within the last year or is currently ongoing (March 2023 – ongoing).
  • Specific Selection Criteria that the award will be judged on is:
    • Independence and Dignity: The nominee demonstrates commitment to ensuring the individual receiving care has a quality of life and level of dignity that is above the standard of others affected by similar circumstances.
    • Caregiver Contribution: The nominee demonstrates that s/he has committed continuing time to ensure the needs of the person are met (including actions that have contributed to quality of care).
    • Compassion and Perseverance: The nominee demonstrates passion, empathy and a strong desire to alleviate the suffering of the person requiring care.
  • Nominees can only receive the award once but can be nominated multiple times.
  • AHPCA staff, board members, and their relatives are not eligible to receive this award.

Process

  • The nominator must submit the completed nomination form.
  • The nominator must verify that the nominee is aware of the nomination and will consent to share his or her story on the AHPCA website, newsletter and social media.
  • Each nomination must include a written statement containing details about the specific criteria above and explaining why the nominee deserves the award.

Selection

  • AHPCA will review all nominations based on the selection criteria.
  • If two or more nominees qualify based on the specific selection criteria, a draw may be used to determine the award recipient.
  • The final selection will be approved by the Finance Committee. The Committee’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • The winner of this award will be announced at the Annual General Meeting on May 28, 2024.
  • Successful nominee should be willing to take part in AHPCA publicity (such as our website, newsletter, social media, and local press).

Submissions

  • Nominators should complete the nomination form and submit by the deadline of 5:00 pm on May 7, 2024.
  • Submissions are no longer being accepted.

2021 Recipient of the Dr. Donna Wilson Caregiver Award

Janet Embacher is the 2021 recipient of the Dr. Donna Wilson Caregiver Award. She was nominated by Lisa Andrews, the social worker at Dulcina Hospice in Calgary, who came to know Janet and her family during their hospice stay. Lisa’s nomination tells the story.

Uwe, affectionately called Opa, was a scientist, an academic, a lifelong learner and an adventurer. He was also a loving husband, father, grandfather and dear friend to many. During his time at Dulcina Hospice, he won the hearts of all the staff with his quick wit and boyish charm. He had a twinkle in his eye that captured your affection.

Janet and Uwe had a wonderful life together and just before his illness, they both operated a successful tutoring business together.

Janet ensured that throughout Uwe’s illness and his end of life journey, he continued to have a high quality of life and a high level of dignity. She was Uwe’s advocate, tireless supporter, and loving companion.

Janet filled Uwe’s room with tokens of his fully lived life. She brought pictures and together they made beautiful scrapbooks of his exciting career as a scientist studying glaciers and his many excursions to the Arctic. Uwe enjoyed sharing tales of his unique experiences — snowmobiling and dog sledding in the arctic or hiking to the top of a famous mountain peak. Janet and Uwe gifted beautiful walking sticks to each of the staff at Dulcina. These were sticks that Uwe collected over the years on his backcountry hikes, that were sanded down and varnished by his good friend Scott. Uwe took pride in gifting each stick and was happy to share them with staff, along with a story.

Janet engaged their grandchildren to complete beautiful artwork that was displayed around Uwe’s room. Janet invited friends to visit and ensured Uwe had plenty of intellectual conversations to keep him engaged. Uwe thrived on using his intellect and on having a “project”. Janet hired a physiotherapist to work with Uwe to focus on his mobility. They videotaped sessions and when the grandchildren visited, they would study the video and participate in exercises.

Janet committed so much of her time and energy to the care of Uwe. Janet recalls “Uwe always did the driving, so it took me a while to gain confidence making that commute”. She travelled from Cochrane to Calgary daily and spent all day, every day with Uwe. Janet was exhausted and at one point Janet spent about 10 days in hospital for pneumonia. Janet and Uwe were also separated for a period of time due to a covid 19 outbreak. During both these times, Janet had daily Zoom chats with Uwe and did her best to arrange people to visit. Janet did her very best to make Uwe’s time enjoyable.

Janet alleviated suffering, not only for Uwe, but also for family and friends. Janet was also cognizant of the staff and did her best to help us work together. Janet did everything she could to alleviate Uwe’s suffering and tended to his every need, physically, and emotionally. When Uwe was admitted at Dulcina he was scared. Janet stayed with him every night for two weeks, until he had settled in and was feeling more comfortable.

I truly believe the most important factor in reducing Uwe’s suffering, was how Janet encouraged him to participate in life. His ability to participate changed over time, and Janet adjusted so that he could still be a part of everything. That meant to world to him.

Janet, an A+ for you, a job well done.

AHPCA is honoured to present the Dr. Donna Wilson Caregiver Award to 2021 to Janet Embacher.

Congratulations Angela Plouffe

Angela was nominated by Kim Nendsa, President at Whitecourt Cancer and Wellness Society, who came to know Angela through their work with Death Cafe, hospice and because Angela is a local yoga instructor and general community advocate.

Kim’s nomination tells us that a two suite hospice opened in Whitecourt in May of 2023. Volunteers in this community came together to form the Sagitawah Hospice Committee. Angela is a member of this committee and has taken on the responsibility of being the volunteer coordinator. At the present time, Angela is their primary volunteer! She visits clients in hospice as little or as often as clients and families indicate. There is a client in hospice who Angela has been visiting four times a week for three months. She offers to sit with the client so that family members can take a break. Angela is a valued member of the hospice care team, she gets to know clients well and report changes in function or symptom management to the care team, and as a result the care team has made changes to care plans and medications.

Angela is a certified Death Doula. She is comfortable talking with clients and their families about end of life and encourages clients and families to have difficult and meaningful conversations. One client felt so comfortable preparing for death that she brought her deceased husband’s urn into the hospice so that he would be near her as she approached end of life. Angela assists with hosting Death Cafe’s in the Whitecourt community and she manages a social media page entitled “End of Life Community Advocate”. She encourages people to talk about death and promotes agencies like the Alberta Hospice Palliative Care Association, The Canadian Virtual Hospice and The Waiting Room Revolution among others. We are so fortunate to have Angela in the Whitecourt community supporting people approaching end of life and advocating for death awareness. She is passionate about end of life care.