Whitehorse Daily Star

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Stephen Samis

Dementia ward to open after hospice at new continuing care centre

After the territory’s newest continuing care site began accepting residents on time last year, it’s expected to open 18 more beds between April 2019 and March of 2020.

By Palak Mangat on January 31, 2019

After the territory’s newest continuing care site began accepting residents on time last year, it’s expected to open 18 more beds between April 2019 and March of 2020.

That’s according to Stephen Samis, the deputy minister of Health and Social Services (HSS).

He told the Star Wednesday morning that Whistle Bend Place (WBP) will see that move during the 2019-20 fiscal year.

The department is now gearing up to open up two wards, he said.

“We’ll be bringing on board the community hospice, which is like a palliative care unit and specifically designed to be that in WBP,” he said.

Samis added there could be 18 beds available thanks to that move.

As of early this month, WBP was about one-third full.

Hailed as the largest infrastructure project in the territory’s history, the $146.6-million site boasts 150 beds.

They include 120 for extended care clients, while the remaining are hospice beds and for those clients with complex care needs like dementia.

And in the coming years, as the site settles into its location, residents will also begin to see the dementia ward open.

“Those are physically designed and especially designed for both people who are at the end of life and want palliative care, and also who have complex behaviours like dementia, etc,” Samis said.

That dementia unit is estimated to open during the fiscal year of 2020-2021.

“The design is different; you design a facility different for people with dementia, and you have specialist care as well in there.”

Samis shared the information after his remarks to a crowd of about 150 gathered at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre at the all-day Aging in Place Forum.

Comments (1)

Up 5 Down 1

John Stewart on Jan 31, 2019 at 9:43 pm

I understand that there is no hope in the Yukon. I was expressly told that people in palliative care are not deserving of hope because they are dying - end of life. How do people who know nothing get to be in positions of authority?

Palliative Care = Hope
Kenneth E. Covinsky, MD

Author Affiliations
JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(1):14. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.9309

This poignant case illustrates some of the barriers to appropriate engagement of a palliative care team. The emergency medicine physician mistakenly equated palliative care with giving up hope. However, hope is not lost when we approach the limits of medical science’s capacity to cure disease and prolong life. Rather, that is the time we can give hope to the patient and family through palliative care, which focuses on quality-of-life needs, symptom control, psychological support, and caregiver support.

Palliative care would have been an opportunity to offer comfort and hope to Bonnie and her family. A palliative care team would have been comfortable with and sensitive to the deep distress felt by Bonnie’s children. Their experience in communication and family dynamics could have helped the family reach consensus on a plan that best met Bonnie's needs, grounded in an understanding of prognosis and benefits and risks of treatment options. Their assistance with symptom control would have given the family confidence that the medical team was doing everything possible to care for and help Bonnie. The request for palliative care was a cry for hope. It needs to be answered more often.

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