Akasu Palliative Care Society, serving the Vegreville area, began 30 years ago with a council of community members and a brochure about palliative care. It has grown into much more. Akasu refers to a place of traditional spiritual quest and healing near Vegreville. The society strives to live up to its namesake by providing education and support to community members facing loss and grief.

Akasu organizes palliative care volunteer training since it, like similar organizations, depends heavily on its dedicated volunteers. Grief and Loss workshops are organized for anybody in the community grieving the loss of a spouse, a child, a pet, a marriage, a job, or even loss of health; everybody knows loss. When requested, Akasu also provides a referral service for professional grief counselling. The public is kept informed of all of these activities via brochures that are placed in appropriate locations around the community.

On the first Sunday in December, Akasu organizes an annual Christmas Service of Remembrance. The community gathers to remember loved ones who are no longer here for Christmas. The season is often a very difficult time for people experiencing loss. This is an ecumenical and inclusive service that welcomes everyone, whether they have had a recent loss or are remembering someone who has been gone a long time. Akasu organizes a peaceful and reflective service of readings, music and a guest speaker. Refreshments follow, along with time for visiting and sharing with friends, family and neighbours.

Akasu’s ongoing project is to expand the palliative care facility at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Currently, there is a marvellous palliative care suite at St. Joseph’s that meets the standard and comfort of any hospital offering excellent palliative care. The suite consists of a patient room and a family room that offers a home away from home for patients and their families. The family room is for eating, sleeping and sharing, allowing families to stay close to their loved one 24 hours a day. The patient is cared for by medical staff and Akasu volunteers in the areas of comfort. The suite has reclining chairs, beds that can be placed next to the patient, comfortable bedding, as well as basic kitchen supplies and appliances. The palliative care suite is the result of a hard-working partnership between Akasu, the Rotary Club, and St. Joseph’s Hospital. Great care was taken to ensure renovations met the health standards of a hospital, especially related to palliative care. As there are sometimes up to three or four palliative patients in the hospital, Akasu hopes to refurbish another space into a second palliative care suite.

Viola Braun-Fox is the chair of the Akasu Palliative Care Society, which is a registered federal charity. The board is composed of volunteers from communities in the Vegreville area including a representative from the Vegreville Ministerial Association, the chaplain from St. Joseph’s Hospital and the palliative care nurse consultant for Vegreville and area.

For further information about the society and its programs: http://www.akasupalliativecaresociety.com/  or akasupalliativecaresociety@gmail.com Follow on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AkasuPalliativeCareSociety/

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