Most people don’t think of end of life care for their loved ones and the grief of losing someone until they have to, which was the case for Jessica Siynor a few years ago.
“My husband, Ben, was diagnosed at 38 years old, at the start of COVID, with kidney cancer,” she told Global News.
Two years ago Sunday he was transferred to the St. Raphaël palliative care home and day centre in the borough of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, where he spent his final days.
According to Siynor the centre was a godsend, not just for her husband, but for her and their three children as well.
“It helped deal with the grief after the death,” she explained. “The bereavement programme was phenomenal.”
It’s why she joined hundreds of residents from Côte-des-Neiges and surrounding areas in a walk-a-thon to raise money for St. Raphaël home, which officials say offers one-of-a-kind care focused on the individual needs.
All services are free.
The centre, on the site of a former church, opened four years ago and has an annual budget of nearly $5 million.
“Yeah, so it’s a lot,” said executive director Olivia Lévêque. “Half of it is subsidized by the government and the other half is from the community.”
Hence the fundraiser.
Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough mayor Gracia Kasoki Katahwa, a former nurse, believes that places like St. Raphaël are vital in any community.
“I worked a lot in hospital care and it’s not really the right place to accompany somebody for end of life,” she pointed out.
Lévêque agrees and stressed that because people don’t usually think of end of life matters until they have to they need help.
“The people going through that need to be guided, so it’s really important to have it free of charge so that everyone can receive those services,” she explained.
She and others believe the provincial government should find ways to help places like St. Raphaël, but until that happens, they are grateful for the community help gives.
On Sunday they managed to raise almost $383, 126, exceeding their $300,000 goal.