News / Halifax

Halifax Hospice aims to open 'homelike' space by 2017, first in province

Two buildings on Francklyn Street on the Atlantic School of Theology campus will be joined to create the space.

A rendering of the planned Halifax hospice.

Contributed

A rendering of the planned Halifax hospice.

The province’s first hospice hopes to open its doors by the end of next year, welcoming residents to a comfortable place near the water in their last weeks of life.

Wendy Fraser, CEO of the Hospice Society of Greater Halifax, said they now have design plans for the two-story hospice that will have 10 beds, and plan to kick off a capital campaign to fundraise their $6-million goal very soon.

“Many people end up dying in acute care beds in hospital. It’s difficult for the family, hard to even get people in a room to spend time with a loved one,” Fraser said Friday.

“Hospice is really meant to be a homelike environment.”

Two vacant buildings at 618 and 620 Francklyn Street on the Atlantic School of Theology campus will be joined to create the space, Fraser said, with the build starting and hopefully finishing next year.

The historic façade will be kept the same while modernizing the interior “with a focus on being beautiful.”

Every room will be fitted with a pullout couch for visitors, kitchenette, and walkout balconies for residents to enjoy the outdoors whenever they like, Fraser said, with views overlooking the Northwest Arm and large trees.

“We don’t want people to feel like they’ve walked into an institution,” she said.

The province’s department of health and Nova Scotia Health Authority have been creating a framework around hospice care for the past year, Fraser said, which delayed original plans finalized before the Liberal government merged the health authorities into one.

But a finalized framework is “good news,” Fraser said, and while the details are still being sorted out she said the province is supporting about 50 per cent of costs while the society collects the rest through their campaign.

The hospice is free for residents who can have any family or friends stay the night or drop in. People usually transfer into hospice care within their last three weeks of life, Fraser said, when they’re no longer requiring treatment  - but a team of health professionals is always available and doctors do regularly visit.

The hospice will free up hospital beds for those patients who are likely to recover from an illness, and at about $475 per day the society’s website said hospice care is cost-effective since it can cost $1,200 per day to die in hospital.

In Atlantic Canada only New Brunswick has hospice care while Prince Edward Island has a mixed unit with palliative care, Fraser said, and would like to see the Halifax site be the first of many.

“I do believe this is probably the beginning of increased development over the next few years. I hope so,” Fraser said. - with files from Yvette d'Entremont

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