Letters to the Editor. (Black Press file photo)

LETTER: Conversation needed to resolve hospice conflict

What has happened at Ty Watson House has saddened me deeply…

To the Editor,

Re: Hospice staff quit, April 28, Alberni Valley News.

What has happened at Ty Watson House has saddened me deeply. I started as a hospice volunteer the year before Ty Watson House opened in 2008 and helped to open its doors by preparing the kitchen to become a place where residents could feel at home and share some normalcy during the last part of their life.

To me Ty Watson House has always been a home filled with love and compassion, where staff and volunteers worked well together and went above and beyond.

I know from my own time volunteering at Ty Watson House how important it is for volunteers and staff to support each other while caring for the dying and their loved ones at the house, because it is not an easy task.

The Alberni Valley Hospice Society is led by a volunteer board of directors. It is not always possible for board members to be present at the level where the mission of the society is fulfilled. For this, directors rely on staff and volunteers who are directly involved in the delivery of end-of-life care.

These are the people at the core of the mission, who can provide the board with important information regarding the work of hospice care, and their work relies absolutely on the trust of the board.

Staff and volunteers need to respect the responsibility of the board of directors and trust them to do their utmost best in their role as leaders.

For the sake of the sustainability of hospice care in our community, I hope the board of directors will listen to the volunteers that walked away from their work and invite them to a conversation.

I hope the board seeks the conversation and the volunteers will accept an invitation from the board to be able to inform the board that their walk out was not a “retaliation in anger” as it was stated by the executive director in the April 28 edition of the AV News.

We owe the volunteers our sincere gratitude.

When volunteers make a difficult decision to walk away from a task this important their motivation should be heard. A conversation is urgently needed to avoid damage done to the mission of the society.

Helma Swinkels,

Port Alberni

(Editor’s note: Helma Swinkels is a member of the AV Hospice Society and long-time fundraiser for AV Hospice and Ty Watson House in particular.)