Frequently asked questions

We recognize there are many questions about hospice. This Q&A is a living document that will be updated as new questions are asked and new information becomes available. We encourage conversation and welcome all questions.

What is Hospice?

Hospice is a specialized model of care for those living with a life-limiting illness, their families, caregivers and loved ones. Care often begins at diagnosis and extends through bereavement.

Hospice care is about caring for the whole person, addressing physical, emotional, psychosocial and spiritual needs utilizing a multidisciplinary team approach. Hospice focuses on quality of life and encourages individuals to live their lives to the end of life.

Medical needs are met through the expertise of highly trained professional staff specialized in end-of-life palliative care.

Equally as important, Hospice care also provides support for families and loved ones, and can include caregiver support as well as bereavement support and counselling.

How is care in a Hospice different from care in a hospital?

Patients may have differing care needs at various stages of end-of-life and hospital and community based palliative care services are available to respond to these differing care needs.

Hospital-based palliative care for patients generally have acute care needs. They may be experiencing new symptoms that are severe, and are admitted to hospital to manage the crisis. A palliative care unit can typically manage a pain or symptom crisis quickly through investigation. Once symptoms are under control, the patient can then be discharged to a more appropriate care setting - home or residential hospice care.  Hospice patients may be cared for by their primary health care professional, with consultation to a palliative physician or team if and when required.

What makes a residential hospice different?

Hospitals continually strive to make their palliative care units or suites as home-like as possible within their large acute care setting and there are long term care facilities offering quality palliative care but they are unable to replicate a genuine homelike environment the way a residential community hospice can.

A residential hospice specializes in end-of-life care. There is peace within the ambience of a home. Hospice staff and volunteers care for and support patients and their families/loved ones. Physical care focuses on palliative care; relief from pain and suffering, coupled with emotional support and spiritual care focused on the relief of existential suffering.

There is freedom and choice in a residential hospice. Patients can eat when, where and what they want. Family and loved ones can visit any time, with options for family members to stay. Children are always welcome. There are quiet common spaces and access to outdoor space and gardens. Pets can visit or stay.

Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and all that is important to patients and their loved ones are celebrated. There is music, laughter, compassion and love throughout the building.

Isn’t Pilgrims Hospice already a residential hospice?

The strategic vision of Pilgrims Hospice Society has always included the delivery of residential hospice care, however Pilgrims has not offered live -in residential services to date.

For over 2 decades, Pilgrims has offered supportive programs including an Adult Hospice Day Program, Compassionate Companion Home Visiting program and Grief and bereavement programs and counselling for families, children, teens and adults.

Doesn’t Edmonton already have a hospice?

Edmonton does not have a free-standing residential hospice. The Edmonton Zone Palliative and Hospice Care Program offers palliative care services in all region health care institutions (hospitals, continuing or long-term care facilities) however all current Hospice bed offerings are housed within continuing care and long-term care facilities.

The Residential Community Hospice Centre model will enhance the options within Edmonton in an alternate setting and will allow patients, their families and loved ones to access supportive programs and services from diagnosis through bereavement, an option not currently available in our community.

Do other cities have a hospice?

There are many residential hospices in Canada and internationally.  In the province of Alberta free-standing residential hospices are in operation in Calgary, Okotoks, and Red Deer and receive operational funding support from Alberta Health Services.

Residential hospices are more common in Eastern Canada; in Ontario there are 39 residential hospices in operation with a commitment from government to fund an additional 20.

Is the provincial government investing any funding to support this initiative?

While the existing residential hospices in Alberta receive operational funding, historically funding agreements have been negotiated on an individual basis.

Pilgrims Hospice will work with all levels of government, Alberta Health Services and others to negotiate operational funding support for the residential hospice care.

Pilgrims Hospice has a long history of support through the generosity of our donors. The remaining operating dollars will need to be raised by Pilgrims Hospice through donations, special events, grants, and planned gifts.

Where will the new Residential Community Hospice Centre be built?

The new Hospice Centre with residence will be built at the current Pilgrims Hospice location at 9808 148 Street in west Edmonton’s beautiful Crestwood neighbourhood.

Will the new Residential Community Hospice Centre be a new building or renovation to an existing building?

The building that Pilgrims has been operating out of, a repurposed former convent, is not suited to the delivery of residential hospice care and expanded community programs and services. The time is now for a new building that will incorporate exceptional functional design with a view toward longevity and sustainability.

Will there be a cost to be in a residential hospice?

There is no cost to patients cared for in a residential hospice.

How many hospice beds will there be?

There will be 12 private residential hospice suites in our new Hospice. With an average stay of 17 days, these 12 suites could offer over 200 individuals per year, plus their families, a quality end-of-life experience in a relaxed home-like setting. 

Why only 12 suites?  The number of suites within a residential community hospice typically ranges from 8 suites -16 suites because that is the scale that allows an intimate home-like, non-institutional feel while delivering cost savings to our healthcare system. Twelve suites was determined to be the right fit for our facility based on the size of our location. With an average length of stay of 17 days for a hospice resident, these 12 suites will allow us to provide excellence in end-of-life care for over 200 individuals, and their families and loved ones each year.

How will medical care be delivered?

Medical care is provided by the patient’s family physician. 24/7 Hospice care in the hospice residence will be delivered by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Healthcare Aids (HCAs). Specially trained volunteers enhance the delivery of support and care working alongside hospice staff.

How will admission to residential hospice be determined?

Pilgrims Hospice fully intends to work collaboratively with the Edmonton Zone Palliative and End-of-Life Care program. Under this model, Pilgrims Hospice will be an additional option for residential hospice care; when acute hospital care is not required, and the individual is no longer able to stay in their own home, they would be referred by their physician or AHS Case Manager for residential hospice care.

Our Admission Criteria will guide professionals in the suitability and timing of referrals for hospice care, typical elements of admission criteria include: Life expectancy of less than 3 months, Palliative Performance Scale (PPS) of 50% or less, valid Alberta Health Card.

While experience shows that approximately 50% of admissions come from home, and 50% from hospital, it is typical that priority is given to clients in the community who cannot manage at home. Exclusion criteria may include: requiring more than 2 persons to transfer (i.e. bariatric clients), requiring bipap, requiring isolation, exhibiting wandering or exit-seeking behaviours.

We will always advocate for those needing the care and support provided by Pilgrims Hospice.

Will medically assistance in dying (MAID) be provided in the Hospice Centre?

Pilgrims Hospice Society position statement regarding Medical Assistance in Dying*
as of May 30, 2018:

Pilgrims Hospice Society is committed to providing excellent hospice palliative care at the end of life. Palliative care neither prolongs the dying process, nor hastens death. It promotes the inherent dignity of those facing life-limiting illness, strives to control pain and other symptoms, considers physical, emotional, spiritual, and social domains of whole person care, and supports family and friends as they care for their loved ones. Palliative Care endeavours to compassionately relieve suffering, not hasten death. It is focused on achieving the best quality of life until the moment of death.
We believe that the high quality of palliative care we are able to offer minimizes the need for Medical Assistance in Dying. Not only does palliative care help relieve the suffering of patients, but it allows families time to grieve and walk with their loved ones in the final days, which often assists in their bereavement. Pilgrims Hospice Society respects the right of patients to request their physician’s assistance in hastening their death but, because of the fundamental values of palliative/hospice care, Medical Assistance in Dying would not normally be offered at the Hospice operated by Pilgrims Hospice Society.

* Medical Assistance in Dying is the legal term used to describe the administration of a substance intended to cause death, either by a physician, or prescribed by a physician and self-administered by the person. Other terms used to describe this action include Physician Hastened Death, Physician Assisted Death, and Physician Assisted Suicide.

Will you accept gifts-in-kind for the building project?

We will most gratefully accept gifts in-kind for the building project, and will encourage contractors, vendors and suppliers to consider a gift in-kind to Pilgrims Hospice. We want to utilize gifts appropriately and will consult with our construction manager to ensure that the proposed gift(s) in-kind are suitable and can be fully utilized for the project.

Why is now the time for the Campaign?

The growth of our existing programs and services, coupled with the age and condition of our current building requires a new building. Coupled with our long-term plan to provide residential services and the current landscape, when the need for palliative beds is consistently growing and the community increasingly seeks alternatives to hospitalization and/or long term care facilities, the time has come to build A Home for Hospice.