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It All Began With a Conversation...

On a beautiful summer day in August 2015. I had already committed to creating a volunteer training program for HHA, but the question Tracey and I had was, how do we create a volunteer training program that can efficiently engage volunteers in any community across Canada? Having recently completed an online volunteer training program for another organization and thinking of the ease and efficiency of it, I mentioned it to Tracey, and so was born the Compassionate Caregiving Online Training Program. Well, the idea anyway. Creating the framework, writing the content, creating the modules on PowerPoint, recording the voiceover and (thankfully) finding someone to make them all ‘come alive’ online took the better part of a year. It was a long but incredibly rewarding process! There were 11 original modules, and additional modules that have or will be created for more specific volunteer roles for the Bello Project, Pre and Perinatal Hospice and Hospice at Home.

This online training program enables us to access anyone in any community across Canada – regardless of how remote they are. Upon completion and submission of required information, volunteers are given a Certificate of Completion and a synopsis of what our training program includes so they are able to present those to any facility or organization (long term care, hospitals, hospices, etc), should there not be an active Home Hospice Chapter in their community. The feedback we have received from upon completion has been validating and rewarding. Here are two testimonials that were shared with us:

“The content and presentation offered through the Home Hospice Association’s Compassionate Caregiving Online Training was consistently high quality and engaging. Most importantly, each module provided an excellent overview of the challenges and opportunities inherent in each area – while challenging me to clarify and to find my own answers. I felt challenged and consistently drawn into the exercises presented and felt at the conclusion of each module that I was eager to continue on and learn from the modules to come. Over all this was a highly engaging program that was effectively carried through. Even though this was self-guided training, it felt as though I was sitting in a room learning from individuals with broad experience which helped to enrich the entire journey from start to finish. There are many useful things I am taking with me from this training and I am appreciative of the opportunity to learn from such a diverse team.” Blair – Caregiver

The Compassionate Caregiving Training is more than a training program, it is a life experience that allows an understanding of what palliative care is, what Home Hospice Association does and its vision and mission, the areas of care, the role of the volunteers, the needs of a dying person and their family, and much more. It definitely reminds us of what is really important in our life and why it is so important to help each other!” Hermes- Board Member

Moving forward and into 2018, our online training program has become the foundation of community engagement as it will be the resource for every Home Hospice Association chapter volunteer in their quest to become emotionally, spiritually and practically experienced in caring for someone at end of life. One of the greatest ‘pools’ of volunteers that has been identified are the ‘baby boomers’, and so was born a spotlight on senior volunteerism. Early last year, two Focus Groups were facilitated to answer the question: “How do senior volunteers wish to be engaged and educated?” The outcome was a very clear message; “on our own terms, in our own time”. This formed the basis of the next phase of our project.

In June 2017 a steering committee based in Hamilton was struck to address the elements of this project; 75% of this committee would be considered a senior volunteer. This steering committee will work to recruit and engage seniors as volunteer compassionate caregivers to critically ill members of their community. The benefit is the sense of contribution to the social fabric of their community; providing a unique opportunity to connect with all ages and share their life experience with others at their most vulnerable time. Here is what the community of Etobicoke is saying about Volunteer Boomers…Plus!

“As a member and board member of CARP Etobicoke, I came to learn about Home Hospice Association and their interest in creating a specific senior volunteer recruitment, education, engagement and appreciation campaign in September of 2016. Since that time our CARP chapter has welcomed HHA to speak at our events and I have chosen to become a Champion to bringing hospice at home to my community of Etobicoke. It is my belief and my experience that HHA is an organization that is willing to put significant time and effort into understanding what a senior volunteer needs. They actually believe that we are unique to the general volunteer population. Home Hospice Association is committed to not only providing compassionate care to the dying community but to also providing that same level of care for the volunteers caring for the dying community. It has been a great pleasure to watch their growth and I am so proud to be taking an active role in ensuring hospice at home is available to my friends, neighbours and all those living in my community of Etobicoke.” Anne Karda; CARP; Etobicoke Resident

Due to lack of funding at all levels, hospice care requires more volunteer hours than most…Trained Compassionate Caregivers make a significant impact.


Program: Hospice At Home

How it Helps: A 24 hour model of hospice care that includes private nursing, alternative therapies, spiritual and emotional counseling and death doula support.

Who it Helps: A minimum of 138,000 people per year.

Program: Experiential Day Hospice

How it Helps: In the early stages of the journey provides an opportunity to step out of the illness for the person diagnosed in a safe environment; giving respite for the primary care giver.

Who it Helps: A minimum of 336,000 people per year.

Program: HOPP (Helping our Precious Peds)

How it Helps: Compassion and care to encourage a family to be a family while paying attention to the unique needs of an ill child.

Who it Helps: More than 3000 families per year.

Program: Compassionate Caregiving

How it Helps: Empower, educate and support those who caring for someone walking their dying journey.

Who it Helps: 300-500 volunteer caregivers, per community per year, and 1,000,000 familial caregivers.

Program: Another Day

How it Helps: The Canadian Mental Health System is over worked and not able to focus on a targeted area of mental health such as grief. Targeted grief and bereavement counseling and support for both the person diagnosed and those who love them.

Who it Helps: Over one million people per year touched by a life threatening diagnosis.

Program: Pre and Perinatal Hospice

How it Helps: To help parents achieve as normal a birthing process as possible in light of the fact that their baby will be born still.

Who it Helps: 25% of Pregnancies will not result in a baby coming home from the hospital.

Program: The Bello Project

How it Helps: Works with an owner to lessen the worry of what will become of their pet at the time of their death and to offer a smoother and less stressful transition while the pet grieves their loss. The goal is to keep this bond of unconditional love and support together for as long as possible.

Who it Helps: Potentially 130,000 pets each year.

For more information on how to become a Compassionate Caregiver, please visit:

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