PEI

The new faces of P.E.I now more represented in hospice volunteers

Islanders who utilize hospice services will now see some more diverse faces among the volunteer group.

'The stronger our care is for our dying, the more peaceful our community can be' says organizer

The new group of palliative care volunteers finished up their training Wednesday night. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

Islanders who utilize hospice services will now see more diverse faces among the volunteer group.

The latest group of volunteers graduated from Hospice PEI training Wednesday night at The Prince County Hospital, and among them were two Buddhist monks and two people of Muslim faith.

The hospice care training covers nine modules on topics ranging from pharmaceutical care to self care.

The students in the class say they learned the ins and outs of end of life care, but also, thanks to the diversity of the group, they learned a lot about other cultures and what their thoughts on death that can bring to end-of-life care.

The stronger our care is for our dying, the more peaceful our community can be.- Patti Arsenault

"From this program I learned to be more realistic, become more real about people who are going through this process, because before I only learned this from some literature, but this is real, hands on,"  said Venerable Liu from the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society.

Student Joe McCardle says he enjoyed speaking with the students of different cultures.

"I thought it was great, I think the way our province and country is going I think it's super," he said.

Two Buddhist monks listen to the lesson. They say they learned a lot about the realities of end-of-life care. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

"I've learned a little bit, but I could learn an awful lot more."

Fatiha Enniai, from France, hopes the multiple languages she speaks can be put to good use in the program.

When she walked into the classroom, she said she was happy to see some diversity in the group of people learning about palliative care.

"I think it's really well representative of our Island and because we know that patients can be from around the world," she said.

"We have to be prepared to deal with the cultural perspective, so I was really happy. And also to meet new people, it's really interesting."

'We're becoming very multicultural'

While more diverse people arrive in P.E.I., there may be a need for specific end-of-life care programs. That's something Omair Imitmaz hopes to help facilitate, brining the new skills he learned in the program to the Muslim community and beyond.

There's things that we need to do in this life to prepare for the afterlife.- Omair Imitmaz

"As humans in general it's very important to remember death, because then that will help you how you should live your life," said Imitmaz.

"You should know that, for people that believe that there's an afterlife and there's things that we need to do in this life to prepare for the afterlife."

Inviting newcomers to the hospice training was Patti Arsenault's idea, as the Hospice PEI co-ordinator for East Prince.

Patti Arsenault, Hospice PEI co-ordinator for East Prince, says diversity can only help the program. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

"I was thinking that our communities are growing on P.E.I. and we're becoming very multicultural," she said.

"The stronger our care is for our dying, the more peaceful our community can be."

Arsenault said it gave her great joy every time she stepped into the classroom and saw the variety of faces there.

'There's a veil there that I'd like to lift'

As the co-ordinator of the program, Arsenault said she learned a lot from her students, too, and is now thinking of new ways to expand the program.

There's a veil there that I'd like to lift so that I could bring their perspectives together as a community.- Patti Arsenault

"I only see things through my perspective, so I don't have eyes in different communities and different cultures," she said.

"But there's a veil there that I'd like to lift so that I could bring their perspectives together as a community and therefore we'd be able to help better."

Now that the training is complete, the students can volunteer in fundraising efforts, in a person's home providing hospice care, or on the palliative care ward at the hospitals.

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