Categories: Volunteers & Charity

The gift of compassion

Foyer Lacombe Covenant Foundation recently received a gift of $21,000 from the St. Albert/Sturgeon Hospice Association, to buy special beds and chairs for patients at the facility. A group, including nurses, residents and administrators were on hand to collect the donation. Front Row: Left to right, Evett Stone, Nick Bongato, Arlene Beck, Kelly Dunn, Twyla Grandish, Kelly Kontek and Gail Johnston. Back Row: Left to right, Nadine Bass, Sandra Smith, Laurel Morrill, Raelene Schlachter and Helen Clemit.

It’s amazing what a new bed can do for most people. At Foyer Lacombe, a new bed is about to mean the biggest improvement in end of life care.

Thanks to a recent gift from the St. Albert Sturgeon Hospice Association (SASHA), the Covenant Care continuing care and hospice facility is about to get a bariatric bed that is extra wide to allow a client’s loved one to lay beside him or her.

Site lead Kelly Kontek said that they have a few such requests in the past year or two but it hasn’t been possible with their regular beds.

“We did the best we could to accommodate that. My rationale for such was so that we could have it for families, for wives, so that if they’re able and would like to lay or sleep with their loved one that they have the ability,” she said.

One such instance involved a client who had a young child that couldn’t lie down with him. It broke her heart, she said.

In consultation with the occupational therapist and other decision makers, she decided on this 48” wide unit, which can also accommodate obese patients if need be. They also have some Broda chairs on order. The chairs are like a reclining padded chair on wheels.

“I noticed this last summer that a number of the hospice residents went outdoors as often and as much as they could. If they are bed bound, they have no way to go outside.”

The special padded chairs make that process a lot easier as standard wheelchairs usually don’t cut it, generally because of the level of comfort desired. Two out of the three new units, she said, are “deluxe models” that fold out and can be used as beds. All of these new acquisitions will help the facility to offer the compassion that its clients deserve.

“Our philosophy is ‘live until you die’. I believe we here at Foyer, we really put forth all efforts to make that happen.”

Scott Henderson, president of the board at SASHA, said that he was pleased to be able to offer the funding of $21,000 to help finance the purchases.

“We’re the unofficial fundraising arm for Foyer Lacombe. Originally, our purpose in life was to get a hospice in St. Albert/Sturgeon. That’s been done. Then, as we have found out, a lot of times they don’t have all the extras that would benefit both the client and their families so we decided to start doing some fundraising to help get all those extras to make things easier for people,” he said.

While SASHA has received past grants from the St. Albert Community Foundation, most of its funding comes from its own fundraising. It is about to embark on another campaign to improve the facility’s tub room with a focus on accessibility.

At the same time, SASHA is set to train compassionate care volunteers to do home visits.

“What we’ve been working on developing is a volunteer program where our volunteers can get matched up with some of these families and go out and be a resource for information,” he said, adding that the visit can give the caregiver a bit of respite and can lessen the social isolation of the patient as well.

Scott Hayes :Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.