Sudbury

Hospice care for dying kids slowly starting to increase in northeastern Ontario

Hospices in northeastern Ontario are starting to offer palliative care specifically for dying children and their families.
Last May, the adult hospice in Sault Ste. Marie started accepting children. (Shutterstock/Ollyy)

A hospice in Sudbury has launched a pilot project to provide end-of-life care for teens — and eventually small children — in an effort to help families in the northeast trying to cope with dying children. 

Maison Vale Hospice executive director Leo Therrien told CBC News there are some differences in care for terminally ill children.
Sudbury hospice executive director Leo Therrien. (CBC)

"The families play a much bigger role ... during the process with children," he said.

The service comes too late for a woman from Sault Ste Marie, who said there was no pediatric hospice in the northeast in 2014.

Amber Scornaiencki was looking for end-of-life care for her six-year-old daughter who had a brain tumour.

Instead of home care, Scornaiencki opted to travel 10 hours from her home in Sault Ste. Marie to Rogers House in Ottawa.

She said staff there knew how to make the most of the time the family had left together.

"Like the handprints, the memory boxes ... making necklaces … they just came up with new activities every day in order to keep our minds moving forward," she said.

The Maison Vale Hospice in Sudbury is one of the first facilities in northern Ontario to offer care for paediatric patients. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

Now there are more options for families. Last May, the adult hospice in the Sault started accepting children.

While the Sudbury hospice's pilot program is meant for 12-to-18-year-olds, Therrien said there are plans for children as young as one year old.

"The reality is that people want to stay close to home. People in the north shouldn't have to go down south for these services," he said.

As for Scornaiencki, she said she's happy families will no longer have to go as far as she did to get the care they need.

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