Hospice Orillia and Mariposa House Hospice Collaboration Series Part 1 of 3: Through the lens of a loved one!
Pictured above is Daina Johnstone holding her grandfather, Everett Johnstone’s, Footprint project book.
ORILLIA, ON – Welcome to a three-part series focused on Hospice Orillia and Mariposa House Hospice. This series will take our readers through what it is like to be a patient, volunteer and leader at these local Hospice Palliative Care organizations.
Part one features Daina, the granddaughter of Everett Johnstone who received care through both Hospice Orillia and Mariposa House Hospice.
Everett was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2019. At the time of diagnosis, he was only given three months to live. His granddaughter Daina had him move in with her in order to help with his care. Home care and a Nurse Practitioner were also brought in to assist where needed.
Like many other patients with a terminal diagnosis, his family members gathered for what they thought would be their Grandpa’s last Christmas. True to the social butterfly and lively man he was, he surpassed Christmas, then Easter, then the next Christmas. He ended up living another two years and four months after his diagnosis, which did not surprise anyone in his family.
Everett’s Nurse Practitioner, Joanne, was the first to introduce the idea of the Footprints project provided through Hospice Orillia, a local community-based hospice.
Established in 1989, Hospice Orillia offers practical, emotional and spiritual support to those in our community coping with advanced illness, death and bereavement. The volunteers and staff serve clients and their loved ones of all ages and backgrounds with compassion and respect, while honouring their choices and supporting them through their life journey.
Hospice Orillia’s services are provided free of charge to anyone living with a life-limiting illness and/or their friends, family members, and caregivers at the client’s home, wherever “home” is.
The Footprints project provides clients the opportunity to tell their life story from their point of view.
Stefanie Collins, Social Worker and Visiting Volunteer Coordinator with Hospice Orillia, reached out and was able to match Everett with volunteer Anneke, who visited Everett over several weeks to conduct interviews for his Footprints project. Once completed, the interview was edited and published in a book format which included pictures provided by Everett and his granddaughter, Daina.
Hospice Orillia provides two printed copies for each Footprint project client, plus a digital copy. Daina was able to use the digital copy to have additional copies printed for all of Everett’s kids and grandkids.
“That book made Grandpa as proud as a peacock. He would call his friends and family and tell them they needed to read his book. He would share his book with every one of his nurses,” Daina explained. “The Footprints project book has inspired so many. It was a gift to be able to read my Grandpa’s stories from his point of view. Especially to hear about him working on the railroad as a kid; I had heard plenty of stories but that one was one that was never shared before now.”
His book is a beautiful legacy gift for the family written in his own words. Truly priceless.
It was once again the Nurse Practitioner Joanne who introduced Everett and his family to Mariposa House Hospice. After much discussion with the team, and being reassured that they could be by Everett’s side even during the pandemic, it was decided that when the time came the family would move Everett into Mariposa HouseHospice.
Established in 2017 and open for residents in 2021, the goal of Mariposa House Hospice is to “honour every moment of life” one person at a time. They provide high quality end-of-life palliative carewhile welcoming andsupporting family and friends. Each person receives the care and emotional support they need in a comfortable, safe, home-like environment where a dedicated team of RNs and PSWs is available 24/7. The residential hospice is supported by a team of volunteers and organizational support staff.
To know they would be able to be by his side right to the end was something that provided Everett’s family a tremendous amount of comfort.
On May 21st 2021 the call was made to move Everett into Mariposa House Hospice. Daina recalls her Grandpa being adamant that he would not be staying and would be home again. He was right.
Just like he said, he rallied back and was able to go home for 4 ½ more weeks before moving back to Mariposa House Hospice for his final days.
While there, Everett’s family grew, as he quickly gained a number of new “granddaughters” through the team at Mariposa House Hospice. They treated him as if he was a member of their family, not just a patient.
“They are amazing at Mariposa House Hospice. Thinking about the way they were with Grandpa brings tears tomy eyes. They treat you like family and when you are going through such a rough time, it takes a weight off your shoulders knowing that your loved one is being so well cared for,” Daina explained. “Grandpa was a social butterfly, who the nurses doted on. The family-like environment at Mariposa House Hospice helped to keep everyone comfortable.”
Everett loved everyone who spent time with him in the end. The daily conversations would help to keep his mind occupied; no one dwelled on him being sick and this gave him something to focus on.
When Anneke, his Hospice Orillia volunteer, would visit him at Mariposa House Hospice. He would brag to everyone that she was the girl that made his book, which he showed off to all of the staff. They all took the time to read it and even went so far as to share it with other patients (with Everett’s approval).
His legacy gift of the Footprints project book inspired other residents at MHH to write notes to their loved ones with the help of the volunteer and staff team.
Everett died on July 22, 2021 just ten days prior to the birth of his great-great-granddaughter. She was named Evelynn. Everett’s son, Terry, and granddaughter, Daina, were both present at the time of his death.
Daina wanted to express just how thankful she is to have had the opportunity to be at her Grandpa’s side as he passed away.
“Thanks to Mariposa House Hospice, I will forever have the memories of being with Grandpa in the end. I truly gained a group of sisters with the girls,” Daina boasted. “I also have this beautiful book from Hospice Orillia written in my Grandpas own words, to read whenever I am missing him. There are not enough words to thank both organizations for what they have done not only for Grandpa but our entire family.”
Those who work in Hospice Palliative Care, whether it be in a community-based organization like Hospice Orillia or a residential facility like Mariposa House Hospice, they really do go above and beyond for each client. It takes aspecial kind of person to be there with a someone at the end of their life. To hold their hand. To capture their stories. To do this day in and day out, bringing strangers into their hearts and treating them like family.
In the end, the family feels as though Everett benefitted from the services at both Hospice Orillia and MariposaHouse Hospice. While each organization provide unique services, the combination of the two brought joy and closure to the end of Everett’s life.
For more information on the Footprints project click here.
Be sure to check back in next week for part two of the series where we will discuss what it is like to volunteer atHospice Orillia and Mariposa House Hospice.
Hospice Orillia – Visiting Hospice Established in 1989, Hospice Orillia offers practical, emotional and spiritual support to those in our community coping with advanced illness, death and bereavement. Our volunteers and staff serve clients and their loved ones of all ages and backgrounds with compassion and respect, while honouring their choices and supporting them through their life journey. Our services are offered to anyone living with a life-limiting illness and/or their friends, family members, and caregivers at the client’s home, wherever “home” is, or at our office location in a private space. www.hospiceorillia.ca.
Mariposa House Hospice – Residential Hospice Established in 2017 and open for residents in 2021, the goal of Mariposa House Hospice is to “honour every moment of life” one person at a time. We provide high quality end-of-life palliative care, while welcoming and supporting family and friends. Each person receives the care and emotional support they need in a comfortable, safe, home-like environment where a dedicated team of RNs and PSWs is available 24/7. The Mariposa House Hospice residential hospice is supported by a team of volunteers and organizational support staff. https://www.mariposahousehospice.com/