AHPCA is pleased to introduce our Jean Stone Scholars for 2018
Bruce Knowlden, 2018 Jean Stone Scholar
First and foremost, I visit people in palliative situations in the community and in hospital, through AHS volunteer services. I was a member of the first Board of Directors of the Palliative Care Society of the Bow Valley, which is working towards improving palliative care and building a hospice in the Bow Valley. I continue working on the Stoney Nakoda Morley First Nations working group, which was set up to ensure the Stoney Nakoda community is fully involved in the project.
I first became involved in palliative care in the eighties, when I lived in Montreal. I was a volunteer pastoral visitor at the Royal Victoria Hospital, and many of the people I visited were living with AIDS. At the time, having AIDS was essentially a palliative condition. The Royal Vic was also where Dr. Balfour Mount, the father of palliative care in North America, was working, and I often had discussions with my colleagues about the concept.
When I retired and moved back to Alberta, I wanted to get involved in the community. I remembered how meaningful it had been to be present to people who were nearing the end of their journey of life. Although it often was, and continues to be, a time of sadness, there is a deep human connection established, and strength and courage flow both ways. Although I do not do palliative visiting exclusively, I want to focus on it and get better at it.I will use the scholarship to attend the 22nd International Congress on Palliative Care in Montreal in October. Palliative Care is now a strong worldwide movement, and I am looking forward to hearing about what is happening in other parts of the world. I hope to bring back some ideas to help improve palliative care in Alberta.
Thank you for the scholarship. I greatly appreciate it.
Stefanie Schmidt, 2018 Jean Stone Scholar
When I’m volunteering in the Agape Hospice in Calgary, I go from room to room and simply pay the residents a visit. We might have a short chat or a longer conversation, or I may just bring them a cup of tea. The thing I like the most about volunteering in palliative care is that I do not have to be or do anything extraordinary to be supportive. Just being there and giving the residents some attention and kindness can already be enough. Also, the Agape team is very kind, helpful and appreciative. I was gradually drawn into the direction of hospice and palliative care for several reasons. One reason is that in this field, the end-of-life gets its own chapter; it is not cutoff or ignored as if it’s not part of our life story. I find it helpful to deal with loss and the fear of death by knowing that there is such a peaceful place like a hospice.
The Jean Stone Scholarship funds give me the opportunity to participate in a certificate program to become an End-of-Life Doula. My wish is to address the end-of-life with the people around me, both children and adults. I want to show that there is not only sadness and urgency when it comes to death, but also a notion of beauty, in the sense that death means that we have a life to live that can be engaging, if we are open to it.
Marianne Magdy-Foley, 2018 Jean Stone Scholar
I volunteer at the Southwood Hospice in Calgary. The staff and directors at Southwood have made me feel like part of their family. I love visiting the patients and getting to know them and their families. I have learned so much from all of them. I believe the time we spend chatting, having a laugh or going for a walk helps them briefly forget how they feel.
I became involved with Southwood Hospice while I was helping to take care of an older gentleman at his home. He was eventually moved to the hospice and since he had no immediate family, I along with the Southwood staff became his companion world until his death. While he was in hospice, he asked us why it took him so long to meet people like us who cared about him no matter who he was or what he was like. He mattered.
This man dreamed of starting a small charity in his daughter’s honour. I ran with his idea and we called it Project Kim and Friends. That Christmas, in his room at hospice, he watched us overstuff 25 backpacks with donated clothing and toiletries for homeless men. We also purchased 40 Christmas dinners at the men’s shelter with the extra money donated. He was thrilled that a thought from him, solely to remember his daughter, produced such a huge response.
Since his death, in honour of him and his daughter, I play Mrs. Santa Claus at the hospice on Christmas morning. I dress as Mrs. Claus and deliver something to each patient to hopefully bring a smile to their faces. I love doing this and it brings me joy to see their faces light up, even if they do not celebrate Christmas or are not feeling great that morning. Due to recent knee surgery, I have had to take a break from volunteering and being part of the patients’ and families’ lives. I am very much looking forward to getting back to volunteering regularly at Southwood.
The most meaningful part of volunteering at Southwood is being able to be a part of each patient’s life. I am really a stranger to them. They are free to tell me anything, cry, or ask for a hug, all without feeling like a burden (as they sometimes are concerned about worrying their families). Sometimes my interactions with patients are very simple; one lady just asked me to hold her hand so she could get a little sleep.
I will use the Jean Stone Scholarship funds to enroll in the St. Elizabeth Online Training Course. I am looking forward to adding to my knowledge so I can be a better integral part of the hospice care team.