It’s one of the only country hospices in the country and the blueprint for all others to follow.
The Foothills Hospice serves a huge need in Southern Alberta, keeping people on their final journey close to home. The facility has an annual budget of $2.8 million. Alberta Health pays just 61% of the annual operating costs and the rest must be covered by the fundraising efforts of those who support the hospice located just outside Okotoks.
One of the major fundraisers every year is the hospice gala which will be held next Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Foothills Centennial Centre. The theme this year is “Wranglers and Rhinestones”, which organizers say is in tribute to the founders of the hospice which all hail from the Foothills are. The western theme, which will have a Roy Rogers flavour, was the same theme gala organizers had when funds were being raised to build the facility.
The annual dinner is the largest event the hospice fundraising committee puts on, helping to raise the $1.1-million-dollar shortfall that the hospice must cover every year. Those funds help to offset hospice support services for guests and family. Grief support and spiritual care are part of what the hospice offers families as they go through the process of being there for loved ones during the end-of-life journey as well as caring for terminal patients.
This year Foothills Hospice has other needs such as new patient beds which cost in the neighbourhood of $10,000 each.
The facility opened in 2008 and has cared for more than a thousand people.
The need for a hospice came to light more than 15 years ago. As the population of the Foothills County area has expanded, it became apparent that families didn’t want their loved ones to receive palliative care in Calgary, nor did terminal patients want to be far from home.
A needs assessment was conducted with the collaboration of the University of Calgary Faculty of Nursing. There are very good hospitals in the geographic area surrounding Okotoks and High River but there was no provision for long-term care or palliative care.
The aim of the hospice is to make patients feel as comfortable as possible and to feel at home. People don’t pay for room or for meals at the hospice. Staff at Foothills Hospice have become experts in granting patients’ dying wishes to make their last days as special as possible. Some want to see their pets, even if it happens to be a horse. One patient wanted a lobster dinner and they got it, even though they could only manage a bite. The smell of it, just once more, was satisfying enough.
The Oct 22 Wranglers and Rhinestones Gala is supported by The Calgary Stampede who will organize line-dancing instruction and a trick rope demonstration. There will also be a silent auction and a live auction.
Doors open at 5:00 pm at Foothills Centennial Centre, 204 Community Way by Foothills Composite High School. Dress is retro-style western, in the manner of Roy Rogers or Dale Evans Sponsorships are still available. Tickets are $150.00 each or $1,200 per table. Tickets are available by visiting the website.