AHPCA is Pleased to Introduce Our Jean Stone Scholars for 2019
Shelley Blair, 2019 Jean Stone Scholar
I finally know what I want to be when I grow up: an End-of-Life Transition Guide! The time that I spend with patients and their families at the Grey Nuns Hospital palliative ward instills this passion deeper within me.
I owe a huge thank you to my mother, Rose, for inspiring me to walk this humble path. Nine years ago, I became one of my mother’s primary caregivers. It was during this journey with my mother, and the numerous healthcare staff that I encountered along the way, that I began to investigate the world of death doulas. The last two weeks of my mother’s transition taught me so much about end-of-life caregiving and the basic human compassion for another human being. Through my volunteerism, I am learning that the time that we spend with our loved ones at the end-of-life holds a valuable key to our lives that is precious to us individually and collectively as a family.
My wish is to become educated on the many facets of death and dying. I want to share this knowledge with people at end-of-life and their families, allowing them to experience a beautiful death. I believe that education about death is so valuable to share with everyone beginning at an early age, embracing that death will come to each and every one of us. Learning that death is not a scary, horrible unspoken stage of life, but a beautiful passage that should be celebrated and embraced is the road I wish to travel and share with the world.
Thank you for choosing me to be one of the AHPCA 2019 Jean Stone Scholarship recipients which will enable me to continue my pursuit of EOL Care education and to follow my dream to be an of End-of-Life Transition Guide.
Morganne Gammel, 2019 Jean Stone Scholar
I am a volunteer with the Grande Prairie Hospice Palliative Care Society in Grande Prairie, Alberta. I began visiting the hospice a year ago. When I’m there, I visit with staff and residents, tend the plants, and help with general duties within the hospice. I also work with the GPHPCS as needed, to provide vigil services for individuals in my community.
I became interested in hospice palliative care as a child. When I was growing up, my mother worked in palliative care in the hospital. I remember her telling me that there was nothing more intimate than an individual sharing their last breath with you. This comment always stuck with me. Last year, when I was looking for volunteer opportunities, I stumbled upon the GPHPCS. I have always been comfortable with death and it felt like it would be a good fit. Once I started volunteering in hospice, I fell in love with it.
For me, the opportunity to bring comfort, support or joy to someone’s death journey is extremely fulfilling. Death is a natural process of life; being able to walk with someone as they experience it is such an intimate and unique experience.
My scholarship funds will go towards the basic level grief course in which I am currently enrolled. By completing this level one grief training, I hope to gain an greater understanding of the different kinds of grief, as well as learn more about what individuals experience as they move through grief.
Thank you so much for this opportunity. I am grateful to have received this scholarship.
Holly Martin, 2019 Jean Stone Scholar
I have been a palliative care volunteer at Dulcina Hospice since October 2016. My role is to provide social and emotional support to residents and families. Whether it’s sitting in their room chatting for two hours, singing to them or holding their hand in a time of need, I am there to visit and be a support system and a friendly face in the room. I also help train new volunteers at Dulcina Hospice by having buddy shifts with new volunteers and orienting them to the facility.
I became interested in hospice palliative care because my mom is a nurse at Dulcina and told me about the volunteers and their contributions. I became fascinated by the speciality of palliative care, attended the training program and I’ve been loving my role as a volunteer ever since! This drove me to choose my focus areas as oncology and palliative care for my upcoming nursing school semester.
My favourite part about palliative care is definitely meeting and connecting with patients and families. Over the years I’ve met so many wonderful people and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to hear their stories, connect with them and become a sense of comfort during one of life’s most difficult challenges.
I will be using the scholarship funds to pay for a portion of my tuition in the upcoming semester. I am a nursing student entering my fourth year, and I have chosen oncology and palliative care to be my clinical and classroom focuses. I’m looking forward to learning more about palliative care and how I can be the best support system for my future patients. I hope to learn more about where I can fit in on the interprofessional care team. Everything I’ve learned so far through volunteering has helped me grow as a student nurse and as a person. I appreciate your support and thank you for your contribution to my palliative care education!
Amina Sadiq, 2019 Jean Stone Scholar
I volunteer in the reception of the Rosedale Hospice in Calgary. Even though I am a newcomer to the team, the staff at Rosedale have made me feel like part of their family. What I enjoy the most about my volunteering in palliative care is the feeling that I am a part of a team dedicated to compassionate care and honouring the dignity of each patient, family member and staff. As a grad student in counselling psychology, I am inspired by how I’ve witnessed staff go above and beyond to provide comfort, authentic support and mindful presence to those in need. I am also impressed by the ongoing opportunities for learning and growth available to us at Rosedale Hospice. I am grateful to experience a culture valuing diversity and personal leadership, as well as empathy, respect, and collaboration.
What keeps me coming back is a sense of meaningful work and a team that supports and appreciates me. I have met volunteers who have been a part of Rosedale’s team for over twenty years and shortly after I joined, I understood why. It is an honor to witness how each member, regardless of their rank or role, supports each other while doing their best to care for those in extremely vulnerable moments in their lives.
I was introduced to palliative care through the experiences with my grandmother in Ontario. When an opportunity to help transfer knowledge of psycho-social support to a free palliative care and cancer hospital in my grandmother’s city of origin in Lahore, Pakistan, arose, I joined a team of doctors working to make this dream into a reality. After hearing about my endeavour, a fellow volunteer and social worker, Lynda Gardiner at the Calgary Distress center, invited me to shadow her at Rosedale Hospice. After my interview with the volunteer coordinator and social worker, Marie Wong, I felt so welcomed and encouraged to expand my understanding of how to care for those who are grieving and dying. Their example continues to guide me as I begin this journey to serve others and share my experiences with the team in Pakistan.
I plan to use my scholarship funds towards the costs of the ADEC (Association for Death Education and Counselling) conference I recently attended in Atlanta. I heard about it from another counselling student, Anna, at Rosedale. I not only learned about thanatology, but also connected with practitioners and researchers who expressed an interest in helping the hospital. It was a deeply moving experience, as both a counselling student and someone who has a personal connection to palliative care. The biggest takeaway was to get a glimpse of the complexities of social, cultural, psychological, legal, ethical, and spiritual issues raised by illness, dying, death and bereavement. It is humbling and moving to witness the humanity, strength and courage of those who work in palliative care.
Thank you for the scholarship as it is helping me better serve my local and global communities in a very meaningful way!