Read our Hospice stories to see what client and family-centred care looks like at the Yee Hong Peter K. Kwok Hospice. Our sincere gratitude to our residents and their families for sharing their stories with us.
“Love is the greatest gift that one generation can leave to another.” – Richard Garnett
Mrs. S. M.’s first grandchild was born while she was staying at the Yee Hong Peter K. Kwok Hospice. Her final wish was to hold the newborn and experience the unique bond between grandparent and grandchild. Our Hospice team arranged a visit for the newborn to come spend some time with grandma. With her final wish realized, Mrs. S. M. passed the following day, leaving her grandchild the greatest gift – her love and blessings.
Dressed in a white satin gown, with a lush bouquet in hand and surrounded by her closest family members, Brittany Wilson walked along a lace blanket, her makeshift wedding aisle, at the Yee Hong Peter K. Kwok Hospice.
Since she was a young girl, Wilson had envisioned what her wedding day would look like. While details like her dress and décor theme fluctuated daydream to daydream, Wilson was always sure of one thing – her dad would accompany her down the aisle.
But in January, her dad received a life-limiting diagnosis. Since then, his condition progressed rapidly, threatening his chances of spending his daughter’s special day with her.
In late spring, he was admitted to the Peter K. Kwok Hospice, where the focus has been on supporting him through the last leg of life’s journey comfortably and free of pain.
Given the circumstances, Wilson and her fiancé expedited their wedding to July in hopes of having her dad in attendance. “Walking down the aisle without my dad wasn’t an option,” Wilson emphasizes as she recounts her wedding planning.
Time was the family’s biggest enemy, but sourcing a wedding venue that was accessible to the father of the bride on such short notice was another challenge.
Encompassing what it means to provide person-centred, compassionate care, the Peter K. Kwok Hospice offered to repurpose their outdoor gazebo to host the couple’s upcoming nuptials.
“Our care for residents goes beyond meeting their physical needs,” said Nazira Jaffer, the hospice’s executive director. “We strive to provide personalized, dignified care, and that includes working with residents to meet their end-of-life goals. We were going to make this happen for Matthew and his family.”
While the ultimate goal was for Matthew to attend the ceremony, staff still needed to ensure his comfort during the event.
In the weeks leading up to the wedding, staff arranged daily gazebo visits to help Matthew gradually accustom to the process of transferring from his bed to a Broda Chair and adjust to the outdoor environment. All the while, encouraging pep talks and spontaneous “Get Me to the Church on Time” sing-alongs with his nursing team helped prepare Matthew emotionally and mentally for the big day.
“The preparation was on top of my team’s regular workload, but they were more than happy to do it,” Jaffer said. “Seeing Matthew smiling from ear to ear at his daughter’s wedding is why we do what we do. Making these special moments happen is what compassionate care means to us.”
“Yee Hong has truly been a blessing. All of the ladies working there wear capes in my opinion,” Wilson shared.
“The overwhelming support and help and kindness from the Yee Hong staff continues to be incredible. Just can’t say enough of their kindness towards our family,” Wilson’s mom added.
With a mission to provide optimum living for the dying, resident experiences and family feedback like this is what the Peter K. Kwok Hospice strives to achieve.
The Peter K. Kwok Hospice is a first of many – it’s the first hospice residence in Scarborough and the first co-located with a long-term care facility. It’s also Yee Hong’s first step to establishing a Centre of Excellence (COE) for Palliative and End-of-Life Care.
“Our hospice provides end-of-life care to multi-faith, diverse clients of all cultural backgrounds in the community,” Jaffer explains. “We’re very proud of our multidisciplinary team of nurses, physicians, social workers and other support staff who together, speak 18 different languages and understand the nuances and end-of-life values of different cultures.”
As one of Canada’s largest not-for-profit providers of culturally-appropriate seniors services, Yee Hong operates a full suite of long-term care and community-based services to support older adults along every stage of the aging continuum, from their most active and independent, to when they require end-of-life care.
Situated within Yee Hong’s Scarborough Finch long-term care centre, the 10-bed hospice is an integral component of the not-for-profit’s continuum of care, and is an essential service for the community.
“Most people want to die at home, but many unfortunately aren’t able to,” Jaffer said.
The hospice is the next best option – a tranquil, home-like environment where around-the-clock care offers residents a pain-free, comfortable and personalized experience, according to Jaffer.
From communicating with them in their own language, to preparing the cultural foods they’re used to, everything is done with residents’ needs at the forefront.
“Our hospice services are offered at no cost. We don’t want anyone to be denied end-of-life care because of their finances,” Jaffer added. “This also includes grief counselling and bereavement supports to help families dealing with loss.”
For palliative individuals living in the community and in other long-term care homes, Jaffer’s team offers six virtual programs to support their end-of-life needs, including music therapy and advanced care planning.
These virtual programs are also available at no cost and are offered in various languages, including English, Punjabi, Cantonese and Mandarin.
As part of their ongoing efforts to increase equitable access to palliative care, Jaffer’s team has also developed an electronic Navigation and Education tool to help community members access palliative services in Scarborough.
But operating a Centre of Excellence without collecting user fees doesn’t come without challenges.
The hospice only receives partial funding from the government, and needs to raise more than $500,000 in donations each year to continue to provide these services at no cost to hospice residents.
“We need all the donor support we can get,” Jaffer said. “Fundraising in recent years has been increasingly difficult, especially with the rising costs of living, but I’m hopeful more and more people will see the value of our hospice and support us so we can continue providing high-quality end-of-life care.”
Hospice patients and families can now fully embrace sunshine and summer breeze in the comfort of the new Gazebo Garden. Many thanks to Yee Hong Garden Terrace (YHGT) residents who raised $6,000 in just one week to acquire the beautiful Gazebo and outdoor furniture.
Previously, patients would stay indoors because there were insufficient outdoor facilities at the Hospice. Wanting to feel the summer sun when visiting loved ones at the Hospice, YHGT residents together with the Residents’ Association Chairperson Mrs. Julia Chan decided to help.
An appreciation event was held last week. YHGT residents were invited for an afternoon gathering in the new garden. Laughter, sunshine, and good spirits were shared around the table. Mrs. Julia Chan and her friends also brought homemade treats.
It was a heartwarming moment to see the smiles on the residents’ face and the love among the Yee Hong family.
Yee Hong Hospice is celebrating special recognition for volunteer Kamilla. She is the 2021 recipient of Hospice Palliative Care Ontario’s “June Callwood Circle of Outstanding Volunteers” award.
Serving people at the end of life’s journey is “equal parts challenging, fulfilling, and greatly inspiring,” Kamilla explains, and she finds strength in the “warm and welcoming environment fostered by everyone at the Hospice.”
“I will always endlessly admire the personal support workers and nurses for their immense dedication and compassion; the housekeepers for their work ethic and being crucial to the Hospice’s homelike and hospitable nature; the volunteers for the time and skills that they generously choose to share; the social workers and psychotherapist for being an additional support to the residents and their families; the Executive Director for her leadership and vision to create a place like Yee Hong Hospice to exist; and all the other unnamed, but also significant, workers for contributing their efforts to keep the Hospice running smoothly.”
We congratulate Kamilla on her award and we thank her for dedicated service to the residents of our hospice. Read Kamilla’s testimonial in full here.