May 25, 2019
By Kim Latimer, North West LHIN
Melissa McClement describes the Hospice Northwest Comfort Kit that she designed as a “bag of love”.
It’s a little kit with a big purpose. After losing her grandmother, who had been in a hospice and her father-in-law shortly thereafter, Melissa McClement designed the “Hospice Northwest Comfort Kit” of resources for those facing death.
“My Grandma's end of life process was a long and confusing time for our family,” says McClement. “We were not prepared for what we were going to witness, and we were not informed of the valuable services of Hospice Northwest.”
McClement worked with Cherie Kok, Executive Director of Hospice Northwest to create the Comfort Kits: “Quite honestly, the importance of palliative care was never on my radar… after the passing of my Grandma, Jeanette Kurceba, I found myself wanting to provide a tool to help other families understand what to expect when their loved one is dying.”
The kit includes several items: a journal, deck of cards, hand lotion, tissues, nutrition bar, and lip balm. But, perhaps most valuable are phone numbers for support and the book titled “Talking About Death Won’t Kill You” written by Dr. Kathy Kortes-Miller, a local palliative-care educator and researcher.
"Yes, it's difficult. Yes, it's sad. But that's part of the cost we pay for loving someone, for having the privilege of getting to know them, and caring for them, and growing old with them, whatever that might look like," said Dr. Kortes-Miller in a recent CBC interview.
Volunteers have made more than 350 kits and distributed them to hospice patients, long-term care homes, retirement homes and assisted living facilities. They were also given out at a workshop on April 4, 2019 for long-term care homes in the city.
Support for the comfort kits was provided by LH North Ltd. (a local construction company) and the Regional Palliative Care Program. Kok says if additional funds are secured, plans are to provide more kits to Hospice Northwest’s five regional partners in Geraldton, Nipigon, Marathon, Schreiber, Terrace Bay and Manitouwadge.
McClement describes the kits as “a bag of love”.
“Initially, the idea was to create a legacy to honour my grandmother - she had been a nurse at St. Joseph's Hospital and always fought for health care in our community. In fact, Grandma was awarded a provincial medal of honour for her volunteer work on lobbying for a new hospital for our city. When I lost my father-in-law, Ron McClement in December, our family decided to sponsor the kits through LH North Ltd. in his honour as well.”
For more information on comfort kits, or if you are concerned about the care needs of a dying loved one, ask to have a Palliative Care Consultation, or contact Hospice Northwest 807-626-5570 and visit the website hospicenorthwest.ca