A Family's Legacy of Compassionate Care: The Davies' Experience at PEI's Provincial Palliative Care Centre

Eleanor Davies with her daughter, Ellen

When Ellen Davies Ward's mother, Eleanor Davies, was given a life-limiting diagnosis, Ellen knew her mother would be well cared for at the Provincial Palliative Care Centre in Charlottetown. Ellen worked with the not-for-profit organization Hospice PEI for more than 20 years. Her mother played a big role as well. 

“Mom was instrumental in the expansion of hospice and palliative services on the Island. She was the first volunteer coordinator with the then called Island Hospice, in 1985. She volunteered with Hospice PEI for over 35 years in various settings, including clients’ homes, long-term care facilities and she had her weekly Friday afternoons at the palliative care centre. She knew that when her time came, she wanted to be at the palliative care centre.”

The Provincial Palliative Care Centre is a ten bed, standalone facility on the grounds of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. It was opened to the public in 2015.

“Everything that I would tell people about hospice and palliative care services was true. I knew it was, but I lived that it was. We all received exceptional care,” Ellen recalled. “It’s strange to say that it was a really good experience, but it was. Palliative care is not just about the patient; it’s also about the patient’s loved ones. The social worker wasn’t there just for mom; she was there for us; she would ask how we were doing. The doctor would talk to us openly. We felt very included in everything.”

While there is exceptional care for the patients, family and loved ones are always top of mind. The centre has a family dining room and lounge for the use of residents and their loved ones; an on-site kitchen for preparing food and serving residents; a multipurpose room for family conferences and staff education; and space for families to stay overnight when required.

Ellen encourages people to learn about the services that are provided. “Staff are there to help you manage your pain, they will be there to support your loved ones, be it family or friends, you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask about palliative care, and advocate for yourself.”
“Palliative care isn’t always because death is imminent,” said palliative care physician Dr. Mireille Lecours, “when provided early, it is called the palliative approach to care. It’s about talking about fears, the patient’s values, planning for when the time comes, building legacy, screening for symptoms, and addressing those symptoms. It can and should be provided along with curative treatments.”

Islanders who have a progressive life limiting illness can self-refer to the provincial palliative care program; they do not need a doctor's referral.
Ellen’s father also spent nine days at the centre after a life limiting diagnosis: “It really made my parents’ last days so much better. We knew they were being well looked after. Being there is about living. There’s an excellent team at the centre and everyone associated with palliative care does their best to make sure everyone is comfortable. The staff are amazing.”

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Published date: 
May 28, 2024
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