VICTORIA -- Pandemic restrictions, like physical distancing, can be barriers for people providing and receiving end-of-life-care at Victoria Hospice.

Visitor restrictions also make it difficult to comfort those in their last days of life. For Victoria Hospice medical director Dr. Amy Tan, providing closeness to her patients during the pandemic has been a challenge.

“It’s about the humanity that binds us all and part of that is closeness and with PPE, with distancing, it’s hard,” said Tan. “It’s hard because we’re not able to maintain that same type of connection.”

Tan says she is also concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how people grieve the loss of a loved one.

“All of the rituals that families go through for comfort and closure, like funerals, wakes and hugs aren’t happening,” said Tan. “They can’t happen to the same extent. It affects the last visits before the patient dies and all the healing rituals.”

Tan says she and her staff are able to provide more than medicine to their patients. They are also able to to provide compassion.

“The core of hospice is understanding and reaching out to our common humanity,” said Tan. “It is such a privilege and honour for our team to be able to walk with patients and their families through what is usually the most poignant time of somebody’s life.”

It’s that support that Javas Sehkon needed when lost his father to a rare form of intestinal cancer. Victoria Hospice was able offer Sehkon’s family a level of assistance that allowed his father to be in his home during his final days.

“Having nurses come in and visit, having equipment available and in the home really made the scenario brighter,” said Sehkon. “It was really just being able to facilitate friends and family coming in to see him that made it a really special time during a dark time.”

In 2020, Victoria Hospice provided end-of-life care to more than 1,000 people. Almost half of the funding to pay for that care comes from donors.

With the pandemic cancelling major fundraising events and moving the annual “Hike for Hospice” online, the care-givers at Victoria Hospice need the public’s help.

“Our hospice unit is still trying to care for patients so support of the programs that Victoria Hospice undertakes to support our patients and families is a testament of the support that we get from the community,” said Tan. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without your help.”

To bridge the funding gap, Victoria Hospice has launched the “Frontline of Compassion” fundraising campaign. The funds raised will help the organization continue to deal with the needs of its patients.

“Victoria Hospice is able to take the weight off your shoulders,” said Sekhon. “It adds a piece of mind to the process while you are in it and also after.”

When providing end-of-life care, sometimes a simple touch can be better than medicine for someone in their final days.

For more information visit the Victoria Hospice website