On June 13 the St. Albert Sturgeon Hospice Association (SASHA) will be hosting its first Connect CafĂ© meeting.
The cafĂ© provides end of life support and education in a relaxed and comfortable space. Attendees listen to a different topic each meeting over coffee and snacks.
“We want to support, educate and empower those who are affected by or caring for a person with a life limiting illness in our community,” says event organizer Desiree Palechek.
She says she hopes to draw out people who are currently in the end stages of life and their caregivers.
“They can learn from the experts and they have the ability to share their stories,” she says. “They can also obtain support from others who may be in a similar place.”
Palechek says she came up with the idea after helping organize the similarly run Alzheimer’s CafĂ©, a monthly event where people learn more about Alzheimer’s and dementia. She says the Connect CafĂ© will be the first of its kind in St. Albert.
“There’s nothing really available for people going through the end of life process to have that time where they can be educated, create partnerships and network with other people.”
Last year Foyer Lacombe in St. Albert opened up a new hospice and long-term care unit. A total of 10 hospice and 12 long-term beds were added in the unit.
Prior to the unit opening, St. Albert residents would travel to hospice facilities in Edmonton.
The first Connect CafĂ© meeting will feature guest speaker Shari Young, program manager for the palliative program in the Edmonton North Zone.
She will discuss different topics around end of life care, such as what palliative care is, how to care for someone with a life limiting illness, the status of palliative care in Alberta and navigating the system for palliative support.
“I hope we create an environment where people know about SASHA and that they can come here for support and resources,” she says. “The system is very difficult to navigate overall and it’s a very challenging position to be in at end of life.”
Palechek says a Connect CafĂ© will take place on the second Tuesday of each month. The next meeting in July will feature speaker Rob Sharman, who will discuss palliative, end of life, assessment, treatment and refer programs in the community.
There will also be door prizes at the cafĂ©. Food and coffee is being sponsored by Good Earth and Grandin Bakery and live piano will be played as ambient music before and after the speaker.
The Connect CafĂ© will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Red Willow Place and is free to attend. For more information visit www.sasha-cares.com.