Islanders recognized for their invaluable palliative care service

MANITOULIN—Several Manitoulin Island residents have been recognized by the Maison Vale Hospice for their invaluable volunteer palliative care services to fellow residents on Manitoulin. Long service pin awards presented to the Island volunteers, including one 25 year award at a dinner held in Sudbury last week in Sudbury.

“This is a very important service that all these volunteers provide,” said Suzette Forget, of the Maison Vale Hospice after its annual appreciation dinner last week. “We hold an appreciation dinner every year for all our volunteers and present long service pins at these functions, to recognize the invaluable work our volunteers provide.”

Laila Kiviaho was one of the Island residents who received an award. “I received a 25 year service pin for providing my years of volunteer service in palliative care,” she told the Recorder. She has provided these services while living on Manitoulin and prior to that in Sudbury. 

Ms. Kiviaho noted that one of the other Manitoulin volunteers who received a long service pin was Sharon Stephens, for 15 years of service as a volunteer. “Sharon has been quite active with the Manitoulin palliative care group, all under the umbrella of the Maison Vale Hospice. All groups involved in the Sudbury-Manitoulin area in palliative care come under the umbrella of the Maison Vale Hospice to serve clients.”

“We serve clients at the request of the family or doctors, and provide respite care for someone who is terminally ill,” said Ms. Kiviaho. “You provide any type of service, watch movies with them, read to them for instance, but mostly we are there to talk and listen to the client, and provide this respite care for the client so that other families can take a break from providing care to their loved ones.”

Ms. Kiviaho said that training sessions have been held on Manitoulin Island and run by Lyness Wark, of Providence Bay. She stated, “we provide social, emotional and practical support to the client and their family. This can take place in the Manitoulin Lodge Nursing Home, Manitoulin Centennial Manor, hospitals and even their homes.”

“It is an amazing experience,” stated Ms. Kiviaho. “In a lot of cases I think the service and care we provide helps the client to look at it as every day is worth living, every day is a new adventure and help them to move ahead with their life, even though they know they are terminally ill and are going to pass away.”

Ms. Kiviaho shared the story of one client that she worked with. “I was volunteering in the Sudbury area and Charlie told me his wife and mother were both dying of cancer. I was volunteering as an assistant. He became one of my first clients, and in the first month his mother died and then his wife.  And even though he was terminally ill he saw the good in every day. He said he and his wife talked about moving west and opening a gift store. He made and gave me a chain that he and his wife were going to see in their store. It was a wonderful experience, along with being touching but sad.”

Ms. Kiviaho said on the Island the palliative volunteers have not been as busy in recent years as they once were, but their service is still available. Pamphlets are displayed in the Manor, hospitals, doctors offices  and other locations and the Island volunteers can be contacted if someone needs their services. The service is available.

Ms. Stephens, who received a 15 year volunteer service pin, told the Recorder, “I helped step in when the team leader for the Island quit. “It is very rewarding work supporting and helping people who are terminally ill, and their families.”

Other Island residents who received long service pins included Gloria Hall-10 years, Lyness Wark-10 years, and Glenda Brady for 10 years volunteer service.