A program in Hawkesbury is creating a space for palliative care patients to meet each other, share experiences, and relax. The weekly program, run by Carefor, started about a year ago.

Program coordinator Carmen Verdugo, at last week’s session, explained the need for the program.

“The program basically was to introduce the community to a palliative and end-of-life day program where people could come, and they meet people of the same situations, where they could discuss things…and we have great discussions here about everything and anything,” she said. “I think that people, especially with a disease process that is very progressive, sometimes don’t know who they can trust, or how it’s going to be accepted, and I think this is a platform for acceptance.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony at the "Bucket List Walk" fundraiser held in Hawkesbury on September 11. (Photo Janice Winsor)

The ribbon-cutting ceremony at the “Bucket List Walk” fundraiser held in Hawkesbury on September 11. (Photo Janice Winsor)

One of the clients at last week’s session says before she heard about the program, she was stuck at home in Embrun, without a car, and felt isolated. “I was really depressed,” she said. Then she heard about the program. “I started coming here, and made good friends, my morale went back to where it should be, I feel comfortable coming here and talking to them, and the depression is gone…it’s something I look forward to every week,” she said. The Review agreed not to name the clients of the program.

Another client attends for similar reasons. “I was a little bit down, and once I came here and started talking…it’s a good thing to get out of the house,” she said.

The clients and volunteers do activities including arts and crafts, and one volunteer offers Reiki sessions. Carefor also offers home visits, in which volunteers visit palliative care patients at home, and maybe participate in activities, depending on the person’s health situation.

Verdugo said despite the program’s enthusiastic participants, it’s still a relatively unknown program, and she wants to raise more awareness. You don’t need to be referred by a doctor to be part of the program – a person can self-refer or refer anyone else.

Carefor organized a “Bucket List” walk on Sunday, September 11. The walk, which departed from Confederation Park in Hawkesbury, was intended to raise money and awareness for the day program and the need for palliative care programs in the area.