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Welcome to our third edition. As the pandemic continues to alter how we operate (in-person visits are still rare), we have been working to expand our services, plan for the future and create stronger ties with other services in the community. Please don't hesitate to share this newsletter with family and friends. If you haven't signed up for the newsletter yet, you can do so at Is there something you would like to see covered in our newsletter? Drop us an email at
Do you or a loved one need support from our team? Please contact Sidney Thomson, RN, at or 613-406-7020.
A Simple Phone Call Results in Better Support for Hospice Clients in North Lanark
 “Hello, Janice? Jan here. I’m just calling to follow up on our emails. Do you have a minute?” That was the start of a conversation that resulted in a beneficial new collaboration between HHNL and the Lanark County Paramedic Service (LCPS). “Jan” is Jan Watson.  Chair of the Board of HHNL and “Janice” is Janice Steele, Acting Commander of the Community Paramedicine Program at LCPS.

Comfort Birds — a Gift from the Naismith Men’s Shed
This is an example of one of the organizations with which we are forming ties. We were approached by a member of The Naismith Men's Shed recently, asking us to do a presentation to their membership about what we do. The result was an offer to provide us with comfort birds. We are so pleased with this initiative. We have already given out seven of these little birds, and have been promised 40 more! Thank you, gentlemen!
     The concept of comfort birds is hidden in the depths of carving history. Locally, our Mississippi Wood Carvers (about 15 members from Almonte, Carleton Place & area, some of whom are Men’s Shed members) tried their hand at these because (1) they use very little resources, (2) are a simple carving for new carvers to practice on, having little detail, and (3) they have a proven, useful track record. 
     That useful track record includes medically documented ability to lower blood pressure and pain in stressful or painful situations such as: sitting in a dentists chair, waiting for results in a doctor’s office or just about any situation that can make us tense or nervous.  
     How do they work?  Very much like “pet rocks” were used in a past day.  Just holding one in your hand in your pocket, rolling it around in your hand, gives us something on which to focus other than the stressor of the moment.  Perhaps we may use them as an aid to imagining our fears and worries “flying out the window like a bird" and leaving us at peace.  As such they are an aid to personal meditation that has long been used to lower our stress levels. Our little birds are coated with a preserving finish of oil and wax that makes them safe should a child accidentally find them and suck on them.
Farewell Reflections
“Our ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death but a good life to the very end.”
― Atul Gawande, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
The OutCare Foundation has faithfully supported Home Hospice North Lanark (HHNL) home visiting program by their generous grants over the past several years. As I leave my role as Coordinator of Visiting Volunteers at HHNL on August 25, 2021, I reflect on the generosity of the OutCare Foundation over the years. This generosity has allowed us to integrate the expressive arts into our home visiting program and to help give voice to grief and reclaim joy as we share end of life journeys.
     The typology of disease at the end of life includes frailty and dementia, cancer, organ failure to name a few.  Each disease has its own thieves that gradually try to steal the things that make us whole: chronic obstructive lung disease steals our breath; esophageal cancer steals our voice and dementia steals our memory to name a few. What all these diseases have in common is that they create a grief for the person and family and can steal the joy of simple pleasure in life and darken the remaining days.  In my work with people dying at home I have spent the past seven years thinking beyond the physical needs and getting to know the spirit of each person.  It is in the spirit that the beauty of life remains in the end-of-life journey.
     What stands out to me is how through creative expression the lost joy can be found.  Each intervention is unique and based on and individual’s life story.  A few interventions of creative expression have included: a last dance (with a music therapist at the piano, allowing a final waltz); a last letter (with the assistance of a visiting volunteer allowed a chance to say goodbye); a last kitchen party with friends; art journaling gives voice to grief when words aren’t enough, and a hand stitched quilt from the Crazy Quilters brings comfort.  The life that these activities breathes into people’s final days is nothing short of remarkable!
     Thank you to The OutCare Foundation for its generosity over many years and to our team of Visiting Volunteers — together we have made a difference!  
Allison Griffith RN. BScN Coordinator of Visiting Volunteers
We wish Allison all the best in her future pursuits.
Thank you Helene!

The Board of Home Hospice North Lanark have been so fortunate to have had Helene Gilhooly as our Board Secretary and Board Member for the past 4 years.

Helene has brought a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Board and she has been of tremendous help in helping us to set up our Sharepointe system where we store files and documents.   She has guided us through some difficult decisions and always been available to share her point of view or past experiences with similar situations.

Helene has decided to step down from the Board and we will miss her smile and humour, her compassion, her expertise and knowledge.   Thank you Helene for everything that you have done for HHNL in the past few years and we hope that maybe some time in the future we might have you join the Board again.

Stay safe and be well,
— Jan
This book is available for loan at the Mississippi Mills Public Library
Bearing the Unbearable:  Love, Loss and the heartbreaking path of Grief
by Joyce Cacciatore
When a loved one dies, the pain of loss can feel unbearable—especially in the case of a traumatizing death that leaves us shouting, “NO!” with every fiber of our body. The process of grieving can feel wild and nonlinear—and often lasts for much longer than other people, the nonbereaved, tell us it should.
Not just for the bereaved, Bearing the Unbearable will be required reading for grief counselors, therapists and social workers, clergy of all varieties, educators, academics, and medical professionals. Organized into fifty-two accessible and stand-alone chapters, this book is also perfect for being read aloud in support groups.
Home Hospice North Lanark Resource Program Expands to Pakenham Library
On Thursday, August 5 Home Hospice North Lanark was pleased to launch the expansion of their partnership with the Mississippi Mills Public Library. Both branches now have dedicated shelves containing a collection of books that focus on relevant information. HHNL is very pleased to make these resources more readily available to the people of Mississippi Mills.

Home Hospice North Lanark is seeking a Coordinator for our Visiting Volunteer and Bereavement Program

Meet our Board Members
Toni Surko (above, left) is a former CEO of Carleton Place and District Memorial Hospital and Chair of the Champlain Alliance of Small Hospitals. Her career in healthcare spanned 36 years in various management positions in acute care, community health  and long term care. Her community involvement includes serving both as a member of the Board of Home Hospice North Lanark and a member of the Board of Health of Leeds, Lanark and Grenville.  She has an acute sensitivity to the challenges of healthcare access in rural communities particularly those related to palliative care access.
     She was recruited to the board of HHNL in 2016 and did not need to be asked twice. Palliative care has always been a passion and her first retirement goal was to enrol in a Learning Essential Approaches to Palliative Care (LEAP) Core certification course. Toni is the Chair of Fundraising for HHNL and works alongside a hard working, good-humuored fundraising committee to finance the program goals.
     Not one to sit around the house,Toni is a part-time instructor at Ferghus and Company dog training center in Kinburn and trials in various events with her border collie, Rayne.

Rev Barry Carr (above, centre) is the minister of Community Presbyterian Church serving the communities of Almonte and Carleton Place and surrounding areas. Prior to coming to the area in 2013 he lived in Ajax, Ontario and worked for General Motors for 30 plus years. He is the eldest of four children.
    The biggest strain faced by our population as it ages is how we care for each other in times of struggle. Much of the time I am spending hours with people facing these challenges and trying to find solutions. An important part of this work involves interacting with the many retirement residences and hospital settings both in the community but also into the city hospitals. From these interactions the lack of consistent options for peoples facing end of life circumstances raised an interest in working towards a means of finding ways for people to have palliative care options that include their homes and loved ones while bringing comfort and peace to the individual in a holistic and honoured manner.
    Barry remarried in 2016 and between he and Marianne they have four adult children, two grandchildren and live in Toledo on 35 acres of paradise. They enjoy music and the arts along with travelling and learning about wine.

Hannah Larkin (above, right) was raised in the Pakenham area and gained an interest in supporting seniors in rural communities through roles at Carebridge/The Mills and Fairview Manor as a student.  Having completed her Bachelor’s in Applied Science and Master of Social Work with specialization in Gerontology, Hannah returned to work in North Lanark in 2016.  Hannah is the Integrated Manager of Patient Flow for the Almonte General Hospital and Carleton Place and District Memorial Hospital and was motivated to join the HHNL Board in 2016.  Hannah brings an interest in palliative care and knowledge of the healthcare system to our Board and was motivated to do so to give back to her local community.  Outside of work, Hannah enjoys DIY home renovation projects and watching The Office with her two wiener dogs – Dwight and Mose.
This was Gavin Donnelly — an amazing community volunteer.  Never had to be asked to do something.  He saw something that needed doing and he just did it.  From out of nowhere Gavin would be there and in a short space of time the job was done.   Gavin was the kind of volunteer every organization needs.
     Gavin volunteered with Home Hospice North Lanark for several years at both our annual Tree Fundraiser and Rain Barrel Sale and along with his wife, Brenda, they volunteered with our Hike for Hospice.  
     One of our current Hike for Hospice volunteers remembers that years ago an email came through asking Gavin if he could walk with some of the folks from Almonte Country Haven and in true Gavin style…he did. 
     This year Gavin volunteered with our tree campaign and on an April Saturday in spite of rain, sleet, high winds and very cold temperatures Gavin showed up.   He was sick at the time but he lugged bags of soil and pots with trees and jumped up and down off the backs of trucks to put trees in them for customers and never sat down for the entire 4 or 5 hours that we were at the garden center.  Our tree campaigns will never be the same without you, Gavin.
    On behalf of myself, the Board of Home Hospice North Lanark, our Tree Committee (Peggy McPhail, Christine Bois, Ed Lawrence, Ron Ayling, Allan Goddard, Kat Fournier, Andrea Bird, Duncan Bird, Toni Surko), the Rain Barrel Sale and Hike for Hospice Committees, we would like to extend our deepest condolences to Brenda and Gavin’s family. Rest in Peace Gavin.   You will be truly missed.
— Jan Watson, Chair

Are you a non-paid caregiver taking care of someone with a life-limiting illness?

HHNL, together with the Champlain Hospice Palliative Care Program is hosting a free Practical Caregiver Training course starting October 15, over five consecutive Friday mornings. Please watch local media and our social media for details. Participation will be limited to 15 people and registration will be necessary.

HHNL relies 100% on donations and targeted fundraising to finance our programs and training. We thank everyone who shows their support!
Representatives from HHNL attended the Carleton Place Farmer's Market on August 28 and the Almonte Market on September 5. The purpose was to sell tickets for our first-ever 50/50 draw and to spread the word about our services. At the Almonte Market, people could stock up on back-to-school cookies and lovely woodworking as well. [READ MORE]
You can hike when and where  it suits you!  You can simply hike around your town or enjoy one of our many local trails. You can even walk on a treadmill or in or around your home! Come hike with us! There will be prizes for MOST MONEY RAISED, CUTEST PET, and the BIGGEST TEAM. • Please remember to follow current guidelines to keep yourself and others safe •
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