New hospice opens for Windsor palliative care patients who are homeless

The facility has three beds and a staff with specialized training to help the terminally ill.

'It's a place that feels like home for people that might not have had one,' foundation official says

A blonde woman sits in a modern, comfortable hospital room.
Nancy Lefebre, senior vice president and chief operating officer for the Saint Elizabeth Foundation, attended the opening of Windsor's first Journey Home Hospice, a palliative care facility meant for people experiencing homelessness. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

End-of-life care is difficult enough to navigate, but for people experiencing homelessness, palliative resources are largely unavailable. 

Saint Elizabeth Foundation (SEF), a nationwide health care non-profit, is working to fill this gap in the health-care system. 

"We often say, when you don't have a home and you want to die at home and you're living on the streets, where do you go to die?" said Nancy Lefebre, senior vice-president and chief operating executive of SEF. 

"Typically what happens is they're sent to the hospital, or they die on the streets, or they die alone on some park bench somewhere."

She said SEF, the city of Windsor and Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario (ALSO) came together to "make a difference."

On Wednesday, SEF opened the first Windsor location of Journey Home Hospice, a three-bed palliative care facility on Sandwich Street, focused on caring for people who are homelessness. 

WATCH Nancy Lefebre give a tour of a new palliative care bedroom at Journey Home Hospice

Touring the new satellite Journey Home Hospice room

3 months ago
Duration 0:56
Three new beds are now available for end of life care, specifically for those experiencing homelessness. A $ 500,000 donation by the Saint Elizabeth Foundation secured the rooms. Nancy Lefebre, who is the COO of SE Health and is also with the foundation, gave a tour of one of the new rooms.

Lefebre said SEF wanted to design a "cozy place" where residents can spend the end of their lives with family and friends. 

"It's a place that feels like home for people that might not have had one for months, or years," said Hana Irving, director of philanthropic programs for SEF. 

"Homelessness is often an issue where we think 'It couldn't be me,'" Irving said, and added that 54 per cent of Canadians live pay cheque to pay cheque and no one chooses to be homeless. 

"There's approximately 500 people a day, at any given moment, on the streets of Windsor, living homeless or in a vulnerably housed situation," Lefebre said, adding there are already three people who will enter the hospice this week. 

"That indicates there's a pretty big need." 

Lefebre said people experiencing homelessness can access other hospices in the city, but Journey Home Hospice has staff with specialized training to help people experiencing homelessness. 

"The length of stay typically for this population is a little bit longer. It's usually around 60 days," Lefebre said. 

"We look forward to caring for people at their end of days, on their journey home."


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