For some palliative care patients at the West Parry Sound Health Centre (WPSHC) Barb Chidley has simply been known as an angel of comfort in their final days.
Companionship and a voice for palliative patients.
Barb Chidley of Seguin Township was the Hospice West Parry Sound recipient of the Honsberger/Burnett Award, given in recognition of exemplary volunteer service. The awards were presented at the Regional Hospice Convention held March 31 at the Foley Agricultural Hall.
Charlene Peck photo
Others know her by name and regularly welcome her cheery smile and companionship. They appreciate her support and willingness to advocate for their needs.
On March 21, Chidley was recognized with the Honsberger/Burnett Award for her volunteer service to Hospice West Parry Sound.
“She’s very passionate about palliative care – I think that says it all,” explained Jan Merli, Executive Director for Hospice West Parry Sound.
This is the third year for the Honsberger/Burnett Awards that honour Mary Honsberger, who started the volunteer hospice visiting program in Almaguin and Joan Burnett, who started the Near North Palliative Care Network.
The award recognizes exemplary volunteer work in hospice palliative care for each of the three networks in the region.
Other area recipients recognized at the annual Regional Hospice Conference held at the Foley Agricultural Hall, March 21, were Tracy Carr of Trout Creek who volunteers with the Near North Palliative Care Network in North Bay and Christine Gutmann, a volunteer member of the Almaguin palliative care team.
In accepting the award, Chidley spoke about the personal fulfillment of volunteering with the hospice volunteer program.
Hospice volunteer visiting program
She began with the program almost a year ago visiting palliative patients at the WPSHC and Lakeland Long Term Care. She agreed to volunteer Monday to Friday until the need declined.
“But the need hasn’t fallen off, Parry Sound has an aging population,” she says, noting that not all the palliative patients she visits are elderly. “We cover a huge area and there are a lot of palliative patients who all need comfort. The family needs a break, too, and we’re there to help them.”
Offering respite to family
Hospice visitors, she says, want to help the family as much as the client.
“We want to be supportive to the family in the grieving process, if we can,” Chidley adds. “We try to attend the funeral and that is closure for ourselves, but also lets the family know we are there for them.”