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Tend to the Fields Where Seeds Are Taking Root

Every year at this time, it feels very similar to how it feels getting ready to welcome a new calendar year. September 1st is the start of HHA’s new fiscal year. I will always remember doing our “non-profit” incorporation and then getting onto transit to go to the CNE, while reading enroute the edits to our mission statement that my dad had done. It was Labour Day Monday, and it was September 1st.


And here we are getting ready to start another new and exciting year of serving those facing death and their loved ones.


Just like many people do when starting a new calendar year, at HHA we start our new fiscal year with a “resolution” (goal/ intention). For 2023 ~ 2024 it is “Tend to the fields where seeds are taking root”.

During 2022 ~ 2023 we planted seeds with intention. The intention was to build a business case that proves HHA Death and Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doulas are needed as paid members of all professional caregiving teams.


Coming out of COVID, we recommitted to our charitable missions to work with communities to improve opportunities for equitable access to end-of-life care for their people. Because COVID all but decimated community-facing psychosocial, emotional, and spiritual end of life care and the organizations providing such care, this required many seeds to be planted to complete the mobilization of newly engaged HHA Chapters.


Remaining committed to the pivotal role HHA Doulas play in our charitable missions, we are excited to meet our coming year with plans to focus on the following:


Pilot Programs:

The completion of three pilot projects - all offering specialized care within HHA’s Hospice at Home Program:

  1. No Place Like Home (serving the LGBTQ2S+ community)

  2. Prison Hospice

  3. Houseless Hospice

  4. Our Babies, Our Grief Progressive Healing Group will be a key component of each of these pilots and the way in which we will approach the relationship building process to gain the trust needed to serve those within each of these populations.

  5. The Diana Pathway will also play a key role in the program development and offerings to each of these populations.

  6. HHA’s doula practicum program will support those interested in working with any of these populations.

Agency Partnerships:

The growing of three programs that are the top requests for our agency partnerships:

  1. The Bello Project, including how to support pets who have been living on the street with an owner facing death (part of the Houseless Hospice Program)

  2. C.A.N.D.Y. Café has become the foundational program in our work with current partners and is clearly a pathway to forming new partnerships

  3. Compassionate Caregiving including the Professional Caregiving Program (The Forgotten Responder workshop series and the De-Briefing Help Line)

Education

Education is at the centre of HHA’s work, and helping friends, neighbours, colleagues, and all those we have a relationship with to normalize death and to move toward our mortality is our educational mandate. We remember these words from the book Tuesdays with Morrie:

Once you learn how to die you learn how to live.

Wiser words have rarely been spoken. Education threads its way through everything HHA is focused on. These three initiatives grow us, through education, in the greatest ways possible:

  • Rebuild and mobilize our Compassionate Caregiving online training to provide the knowledge and skills for every community-based caregiver, so that they can work confidently in any environment where those facing death and their loved ones may live, work, and socialize

  • Grow our scholarship fund to ensure the broadest base of professional care providers are available in the most marginalized and rural geographical locations

  • Relaunch our free public-facing educational events especially those cancelled due to the pandemic. “When There are no Words”, Death Cafes, “Talking about Death Won’t Kill You”, “How to Talk with Kids about Dying Death and Grief”, and “How Many Maggies”

End-of-Life Care in Long-Term Care Facilities

We still need to work on the problems with care in long term care facilities. In 2022-2023 HHA launched our 4-Point Plan to help care for those facing death in a long term care setting. The challenges faced when trying to solve the problem are as large as the problem itself. But we are not giving up! We are still knocking on doors, offering support, educating about how incredible our HHA death doulas are, and why they need to be on staff at every long-term care facility.


HHA Chapters

Most importantly, HHA Chapters are coming back to you! We planted the seeds to community engagement through our Chapter growth model, and these seeds are taking root so beautifully. While deciding independently which population(s) they wish to serve, which program(s) they will present to their population(s), and how they will position themselves as ambassadors for care, each Chapter has the same three goals:

  1. Provide in-person experiences for our death/IPL doulas and other care companions to come together to network, celebrate and learn

  2. Maximize opportunities to work in collaboration with community agencies to find ways in which they may add end of life care programs, extending the care provided to the populations they serve

  3. Engage their entire community through host partnerships for events such as Death Cafes

Nothing happens without the incredible support of our entire HHA Team and those who believe our work is deserving of their financial support. Tending these fields and growing the seeds that have taken root takes resources.


Wondering How You Can Help? Here Are 3 Easy Ways!

  1. Join the Moonlit Memory Walk because there is no better way to help raise funds for work in your community, have a say in how your community is supported, and demonstrate how two of HHA Doula domains of care (legacy and grief) can be of support to anyone, not just those facing death

  2. Invest your time and talent to help us move our movement forward wherever you call home and with the population you are most strongly connected / committed to

  3. Help us grow our internship program, especially for those enrolled in Social Justice programs. Our future Social Workers, Social Service Workers, Community Workers and Criminal Justice Workers are foundational to HHA’s ability to keep our programs leading edge and relevant.

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, that village is equally necessary (some may argue more so) at the end of our life. On that Labour Day Monday, HHA was started for a reason - to find a way to give the 84% of people living in Canada who do not have equitable access to end of life care access to the care they need. As with many other organizations, COVID stopped us in our tracks, but it also forced a pivot in the way to deliver care and to really focus on education while the world figured out a new normal. Thank you to all who have been so committed to the 84% of our fellow residents that we remain committed to serve.


Happy New Year to all our HHA friends and family. It is going to be the best year ever!






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