Victoria Hospice began in 1980 with a group of individuals committed to improving the quality of care for people dealing with life-limiting illness and bereavement. Now nationally and internationally recognized, it is the third-oldest hospice society in the country. After three decades, a handful of the original organizers still remain, and many other staff and volunteers have been there for 20 years or more.
Victoria Hospice Executive Director Wayne Peterson isn't surprised by this level of loyalty, and says that he only needs to read any number of the many 30th anniversary wishes received by his organization to be reminded of the reasons why people tend to stay for the long term. "We have the privilege and honour of helping people at a time in their lives that is unparalleled. The wishes and thanks that have been sent to us in celebration of our 30th anniversary speak to the powerful and meaningful impacts that we have made – and continue to make – every day."
When pressed further about how it is that Victoria Hospice has been able to achieve such a long history of success and deep gratitude from the public, Peterson explains that in addition to the funds provided by VIHA for basic contracted services, Victoria Hospice has been able to draw on community support to ensure high quality services that would not be otherwise available through a government-only funded operation. Currently, VIHA pays 45 percent of the seven-million-dollar budget of Victoria Hospice; 45 percent comes from the community, and 10 percent comes from grants and earnings.
When Victoria Hospice opened its doors 30 years ago, it had 35 people registered for palliative end of life care. The number of patients registered on any given day in 2010 now approaches 400. Last year over 3000 patients and family members were helped directly by Victoria Hospice.
Looking ahead, Peterson is anticipating the huge and imminent increase in demand. "There is mounting pressure for more hospice care within the community. We're now involved in about 65% of the non-traumatic deaths in Victoria, BC. In the next 25 years, there will be a surge in the age of the population, and a need for more space, more staff, and more funding."
Asked what is needed to ensure Victoria Hospice's levels of service match the escalating needs of the community, Peterson says unapologetically, "Money and volunteers." In spite of being awarded "A Recommended Charity" for the third year in a row by the Toronto-based Charity Intelligence Canada – which allows this title for charity organizations that are proven to be well managed – Peterson states that it is more important than ever that the public understands and recognizes the vital role that Victoria Hospice plays in the community. "Our slogan for this year is 'Celebrating 30 Years of Giving'," notes Peterson. "It speaks to both our organization's commitment to giving to our patients and families, and to the community's commitment to giving us donations that allow us to do our work. It's a partnership."
Anyone wishing to send their own anniversary wishes to Victoria Hospice can do so by visiting the Hospice Foundation website at www.victoriahospicefoundation.org
Every donation helps ensure that Victoria Hospice continues to provide quality palliative care and bereavement services to everyone in our community that needs access to these vital resources.
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