30 June 2022
A new program has begun at Silvera to help residents manage and learn about a variety of end-of-life situations.
“Grief and loss are realities for every person, but more so for the demographic we serve,” says Barbara Hagen, senior manager, Impact & Innovation. “It’s important to acknowledge the many losses people experience over the course of a lifetime and help them still feel that they’re living fully.”
Memorial spaces being established in SL communities
Eje Ogheneovo, a social work student, is conducting a survey with residents in SL about setting up a memorial space in each community where residents can go to remember friends and neighbours who are no longer here. Many residents leave for higher levels of care, but some leave suddenly without the opportunity to communicate with friends at Silvera.
Barbara is developing a new advanced consent form for residents to sign if they want to share their basic information should they have to leave suddenly and can’t say goodbye themselves.
The memorial spaces will allow friends, neighbours and employees to leave notices, cards, photos and messages for residents who have moved away or for the families of residents who have died.
“Some communities have designated inspiration places where people can go for quiet time or prayer time, and we would like memorial spaces to be similar destination spots within each community,” says Barbara. “Having a common space to go to remember someone can provide a real sense of peace.”
The spaces will be important for employees as well as residents, says Barbara. “Employees understand the demographic of the people in our communities, but they can and do suffer from cumulative loss. They forge relationships with residents over the course of years, sometimes decades, and it can be really difficult when those relationships end.”
Death doulas provide later life planning sessions
Eje is currently delivering a Grief and Loss education presentation to residents in SL communities. This summer, a death doula will provide two sessions on later life planning for residents who would like to talk about their personal plans for the end stages of life.
These are ‘beyond the paperwork’ sessions that do not deal with the legalities of wills and power of attorney but instead focus on personal planning, legacy and celebration – identifying what they would hope people say about them when they’re gone, what to leave behind, favourite memories and music, and people who should be advised when they die.
“Residents have a real interest in speaking about ‘later in life’ planning, whether that is about MAID [Medical Assistance in Dying], palliative care or just the realities of dealing with their own many losses — the people in their lives, mobility, health, independence, homes,” Barbara says.
“There’s not a clear line between living and dying. We want to support people all the way through their entire experience.”