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Coastal Palliative Care

Supportive care, Palliative care and Hospice services for Coastal


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Patient and Family Support: Counselling Services for North Shore

The Psychosocial Patient and Family Support Team includes patient and family support counsellors, providing confidential counselling and support services to the patients and family members (or care givers) who are connected to the North Shore Palliative and Supportive Care Program.

As counsellors, we recognize that it can be immensely challenging physically, emotionally, socially, cognitively and spiritually for you as a patient or resident while receiving your end-of-life care. You may experience a number of intense feelings on a day-to-day basis, including fears, worries, depression, anxiety, isolation, loneliness, anger, and guilt, to name a few. It is our deepest hope to be able to accompany you in this part of your life journey by providing confidential counselling and/or informal emotional support in ways that you find most helpful and meaningful.

Our services also extend to family members and caregivers of the patients and residents connected with the Palliative and Supportive Care Program. We recognize that it can be very overwhelming, painful, helpless and frightening for you as a family member or caregiver. We are here for you as well, during and after your loved one’s end-of-life care.

How Can Counsellors Help?
As counsellors, we provide support and guidance and can work with people to help increase self-awareness and identify therapeutic goals. Common goals include assistance to identify and manage overwhelming feelings, assistance in developing more effective coping strategies, a desire to improve overall mental health and well being, and to receive emotional support.
We provide free counselling services to patients and their families for the duration of the patient’s connection to the Palliative Care Unit and the North Shore Hospice.
Family members can also receive bereavement support services for one year free of charge. There are counseling facilities at the North Shore Hospice and on the Palliative unit (7 West) at Lions Gate Hospital. Currently we provide one-on-one grief counselling as well as a Bereavement Relaxation group.
We can also help to facilitate referrals to other service providers in the Palliative Program, such as the music therapist, spiritual care or social worker, and facilitate registration in coordinated  programs, such as our volunteer bereavement walking groups. Palliative volunteers may also be available to provide companionship or one on one relaxation therapies. We also provide information or refer to outside agencies and programs as required.

Please know that counsellors are here to accompany you during this time of your life if you so choose. We have seen that for those who have made a connection, it has made a difference in their ability to manage the end-of-life care process, caregiving process and grieving process.  We are aware that this is a difficult path to walk and we hope you know that you are not alone. We understand that it is hard to open up and talk about issues that are painful and so close to your heart. We can listen, support and help.

How to Contact the Counsellors
Individuals can connect with a Patient and Family Support Counsellor by making a request through another service provider or preferably by contacting the counsellor directly to make an appointment. We can see people on a regular weekly basis or arrange for a more informal schedule. Contact info.

Music therapy is defined by the Canadian Association for Music Therapy (CAMT) as the skillful use of music and musical elements by an accredited music therapist. It is a discipline which combines the use of music with the personal qualities of the therapist as a treatment for rehabilitating, maintaining, and improving the lives of persons with emotional, cognitive, social, spiritual, psychological and physical needs.
Music therapy has been shown to be effective with people of all ages and abilities. Whether the challenges be physical, emotional or psychological, a visit to a music therapist may prove beneficial.
At its core, music therapy is the interaction between a therapist, a client (or clients) and the music.

Within a session, any or all of the following might take place:
– song writing or music composition
– singing or playing familiar music
– listening to recorded music (CDs)
– improvising (making up) music

Additional Bereavement Resources
As our bereavement services extend up to one year for family members who are connected with the Palliative and Supportive Care Program following the death of their loved ones, there are additional bereavement resources on the North Shore:

Grief resource guide

Here are some printable resources, links  and contacts that you may find useful.

Spiritual Care and Multi Faith Services
Spiritual Care supports people who are experiencing crisis related to their health. Chaplains can put people in touch with spiritual or religious counselors appropriate to their religious or cultural background. Chaplains are available to patients/clients/residents, families and friends who seek help with spiritual guidance. More secular forms of spiritual expression and exploration are also available. Services are provided in a safe environment where participants can explore the spiritual and emotional aspects of their health journey and begin a process of accessing inner wisdom and strength.