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The power of people and communities: Creating a movement in end of life care

08 May 2017

MARKHAM, ON, May 8, 2017 /CNW/ - In celebration of National Hospice Palliative Care Week, May 7-13, Saint Elizabeth is sharing highlights of its impacts in end of life care. Since 2015, the social enterprise has provided $4 million to expand access to care and address gaps at the local and national level.

"Through partnerships and social innovation, we're creating a movement to change the way we die," says Shirlee Sharkey, CEO of Saint Elizabeth, noting that 70% of Canadians currently do not have access to palliative care services.  

To address this growing need, Saint Elizabeth has established partnerships with seven local hospices. Impact highlights include:

  • Being an anchor investor for the creation of three new 10-bed hospices in the Greater Toronto Area by 2019, including Hospice Vaughan and Neshama Hospice. Together, the new hospice beds will support more than 500 people annually.

  • Partnering with Pilgrims Hospice in Edmonton to increase community outreach and support through the Compassionate Companions program, and serve approximately 50 families annually.

  • Ensuring 24/7 access to professional health services at the Bridge Hospice in Northumberland County, enabling this small rural hospice to support more medically complex patients and achieve full capacity.

Hospices in Canada are only partially funded by the government, which means they rely heavily on fundraising and volunteers. To boost system capacity and address local needs, Saint Elizabeth has teamed up with Hospice Palliative Care Ontario on two innovative programs:

  • Bringing online training to local volunteers: After only nine months, this program is already supporting more than 1,150 volunteers at 82 hospices across the province. View infographic.

  • Providing community fundraising mentorship: This new program will share best practices, tools and resources to strengthen local fundraising and sustainability.

While the vast majority of Canadians support the need for hospice palliative care, public awareness is low and only a quarter of Canadians over the age of 30 have completed plans for end of life. To address this challenge, Saint Elizabeth is using social innovation, co-design and research methodologies to create new narratives and bring end of life conversations and care into the social mainstream. Impact highlights include:

  • It Won't Kill You to Talk with Us: Saint Elizabeth teamed up with Hospice Georgian Triangle to create this provocative public education and engagement campaign, with the goal of developing a model that can be shared and scaled nationally.

  • The Reflection Room: This social-art research project is helping to start honest conversations about dying and death. To date, hundreds of Canadians have visited the Reflection Room, with more than 350 sharing their stories and experiences.

To learn more about Saint Elizabeth's work in end of life care, visit

About Saint Elizabeth 
Saint Elizabeth is a diversified health care company that has been opening the door to new possibilities and care experiences for more than a century. Recognized as Canada's largest social enterprise, the not-for-profit charitable organization employs 8,000 people and visits 19,000 clients a day, totalling 50 million visits in the past decade alone. Through its Research Centre, Health Career Colleges and Foundation, Saint Elizabeth is helping to make the future of health care brighter and stronger. 

SOURCE Saint Elizabeth Health Care  

For further information: Media Contact: Madonna Gallo, 905-968-6430,


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