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Guided Journeys presents plans for palliative care facility to Coaldale Council

Posted on February 28, 2023 by Sunny South News

By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News

Guided Journeys Foundation is working to improve access to person-centred end-of-life care through the construction of a new palliative care and hospice facility on the fringe of Lethbridge.

A committee representing the Guided Journeys Foundation led a delegation as part of the Feb. 13 Coaldale council meeting.

CEO and president of Guided Journeys, Kinga Zentner said, “There are 260 (people) in Lethbridge in palliative care right now. Where are those people going to pass away, and how are they going to get the support (they need)? We just don’t have the facilities to provide that end-of-life care.”

Zentner continued, “In our area, there are several different spiritual beliefs and rituals around dying,” but noted many of the rituals and customs related to end of life care cannot be accommodated by existing palliative care and hospice facilities.

“It (can be) something as basic as being able to face the head of the bed to the east, allowing smudging,” she added.

The presentation to Council highlighted that availability of accommodations for end-of-life support, “is really important,” to individuals and their families who have specific spiritual and emotional needs.The planned Guided Journeys Palliative Care and Hospice facility will consist of a team of interdisciplinary caregivers specializing in end-of-life care and will include palliative physicians, social workers, pharmacists, nursing staff, and clergy to offer spiritual supports.

“Death as a social event has historically been community-supported,” Zentner explained adding that focusing on comfort during end-of-life care can provide generational healing through a time of loss and grief. “Death is not a just a medical issue, it’s a community issue.”

The committee noted the proposed plan would see the facility situated on the fringe of the city of Lethbridge, bordering Lethbridge County in order to ensure proximity to hotels and other amenities.

“A lot of this is to respect culturally diverse people, that do not have the opportunity to fulfill those needs in a lodge or hospital,” as other facilities may be limited in what they are able to accommodate.

Once complete, the Guided Journeys facility will serve the southern Alberta region, from south of Okotoks to the Sweet Grass border crossing, but told council, “I am very hopeful that it will be between Lethbridge and Coaldale.”

Although no land has been purchased to date, Zentner said the foundation has, “found a piece of property that would be more than ideal to build on,” but noted at this stage, the foundation is still focusing on raising funds. Although the delegates did not make a request to Coaldale Council for funding, Zentner said, “we wanted to pass on that information to the Town that this (project) is in the works.”

The foundation has scheduled a dessert auction and fundraising event at the Kleeman Hall, at Coyote Flats in Picture Butte in March to kick off 2023’s fundraising efforts.

Zentner said she is hopeful to see the project break ground in May 2024. More information about the foundation can be found by visiting https://guidedjourneys.ca/.

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