Compassionate Ottawa co-chairs Jim Nininger (left) and Jackie Holzman (right)
with the Honourable Sharon Carstairs (centre)

The beginnings of Compassionate Ottawa: Reimagining Palliative Care

Compassionate Ottawa had its birth at a community meeting held on November 25th, 2016. At the conclusion of the exploratory meeting of 45 community leaders, the organizers were given strong support to take the next steps for Ottawa to become a compassionate community for palliative care.

Compassionate Ottawa was created as a volunteer organization as opposed to being created as part of another organization such as a hospice. In early 2017, the OutCare Foundation agreed to provide a home for the initiative and The Ottawa Community Foundation expressed interest in providing seed money to get the initiate underway.

Compassionate Ottawa is based on the work of Professor Allan Kellehear and is a social model of palliative care, rooted in community development processes. The Compassionate City Charter, developed by Professor Kellehear, is an integral part of the initiative.

From December 2016 to April 2017, a volunteer group visited some 35 community organizations to seek support and to explore possible partnerships. The response was very positive and initial partnerships were formed with the Champlain Hospice Palliative Care Program, Hospice Care Ottawa and Age-Friendly Ottawa.

In April, the volunteer group held a meeting to develop a draft vision and mission for Compassionate Ottawa. This was taken to a large community meeting of 85 participants in May where the group received strong support for a vision for the city and a mission for Compassionate Ottawa. Over half the group filled out forms with offers to become involved.

With a Community Foundation grant in place, an anonymous donor stepped forward and provided financial support to hire a part-time staff member to support the work of the volunteer group. The initiative has also benefited from the in kind support provided by Pallium Canada, Cardus, Synapcity, and the OutCare Foundation.

Even though the initiative is barely 8 months old, a number of community members have taken it upon themselves to develop compassionate community initiatives within their own networks. This will be the hallmark of the success of Compassionate Ottawa as it will not deliver any direct services. It will work with a wide variety of community partners, matching resources with needs, raising public awareness and facilitating volunteer training to help meet the ever-increasing need for palliative care services in the community. Through this approach, Compassionate Ottawa will complement, support and extend the good work that is already taking place in the community.

Read the detailed version here.

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August 2017