When Michael Scales was invited to join New West Hospice Society’s board of directors, he jumped at the opportunity.
“My parents had passed away, which had given me the experience and struggle of being with someone as they were dying,” he says. “I was interested in expanding my knowledge of hospice and how it works, while also wanting to give back to my community.
He quickly came to learn that the society plays a unique role in the city—one that differs from a traditional hospice space.
“We have a challenge in New Westminster, being such a small city,” he says. “Because we don’t have a hospice building, we work to provide services and resources to people directly where they live.”
This includes walking grief support groups, help with advance care planning, and a Compassionate City Crew—a group of volunteers that works with individuals at the end of life to help determine their needs, then mobilizes the required supports.
A large part of this work is based on a Compassionate City model, which aims to empower New Westminster and its residents in their own understanding of, and relationship to death, dying, grief, and loss.
Photo: Dr. Naheed Dosani is the founder of PEACH, or Palliative Education and Care for the Homeless. He’ll be one of the speakers during New West Hospice Society’s multi-day event on death and dying/New West Hospice Society