By: Bonnie Wurst – mtltimes.ca
It could be a very scary and life changing moment when you find yourself sitting in the doctor’s office concerning the results of your tests, and then hearing your doctor say, “There is a suspicious mass… and we need to do a biopsy on it”. Your world can turn upside-down and inside-out in a flash – if the biopsy results show a malignant tumor. Or in the case of ALS – the EMG, MRI and an onslaught of tests done to rule out other possibilities, come back negative – confirming a diagnosis of the disease. No ‘bucket challenge’ can ease the reality of having to face that.
It could be devastating, especially if you don’t have the support needed to help you or your family through it, but organizations like NOVA West Island can make a difference. A big difference.
NOVA West Island is a not-for-profit, volunteer-driven, community-based healthcare organization with more than a century of ‘providing comprehensive, compassionate, quality care to vulnerable individuals in the community’. Their primary mandate is to provide specialized care and support in the home to Cancer and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) clients during the course of their illness and particularly in the palliative stage. They also have other programs including: bereavement support, adult day centers, home support services, foot care clinics and caregivers support groups. And they receive no federal or provincial government funding.
The organization relies completely on their fundraising efforts and donations. They are volunteer-driven and community-based with a mission to ‘respond to identified unmet community needs through the development and delivery of high quality, innovative health care services’. For example, they will drive a cancer patient to the hospital for their checkup, or go by their house to see if everything is okay – amongst many other services.
I spoke with Marie-France Juneau, Nova West Island’s Executive Director and asked her more about the organization.
“We take care of more than 1,000 people per year through our different programs not to mention the impact these services have on the caregivers, the public health care system and the community at large. Corporate, community and individual contributions as well as fundraisers help us (to) help vulnerable people in 16 different municipalities of the West Island,” she explained.
Their team of experienced nurses, home support workers and dedicated volunteers provide comprehensive and compassionate care, at no or minimal cost to the families. For the fiscal year 2014-2015 their nurses made over 2,813 home visits, opened 276 new files and on average, managed a caseload of 148 clients.
“These free visits help clients and families deal with the effects of treatments and disease progression while providing psychosocial support,” she further explained. “With over 7,277 hours of service (visits, referrals and phone calls), patients were able to remain in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible. As a matter of fact, we accompanied 34 clients and families in peaceful and dignified home deaths. We also offer an ALS caregivers support group. In addition, our Home Health Aides provide an invaluable service and last year alone, cared for 70 clients and made 2,840 home visits.”
And what about their other services?
“Our four Adult Day Centers meet the needs of frail, elderly, disabled or cognitively impaired adults and seniors who come together in a stimulating and socializing ‘club-like’ environment while their caregivers enjoy some well-deserved respite time. We also offer an Alzheimer Caregivers Support Group in conjunction with the Alzheimer Society of Montreal.”
The free bereavement services and support groups are for youth and adults. Their 13th ‘Camp Carousel’, a weekend bereavement camp for 17 children, took place in September. Last year, the grief counselor followed 77 children – and 26 adults also received services. Their support group for Motherless Daughters has completed seven sessions.
Their mission in palliative care is to enable people to stay at home with their loved ones as long as desired. Professional staff and dedicated volunteers work closely with clients, caregivers and community health care agencies to provide comprehensive, compassionate, quality care.
NOVA West Island has a twenty-four hour on-call service and the need for the involvement of other team members is ongoing. As is their need for volunteers as follows:
Palliative Home Care: To visit cancer and ALS clients in their home providing a friendly, caring contact and respite for caregiver. Time commitment: As volunteer’s schedule permits. Training provided.
Palliative Transport: To provide transportation assistance to cancer and palliative care clients going for appointments/treatments to all Montreal hospitals. Time commitment: As volunteer’s schedule permits. Some compensation for gas.
Adult Day Centers: To assist the program/activity coordinator with the day’s activities, to work in a team to provide lunch or to assist clients with stimulation and socialization. Time commitment: varied.
Foot Clinics: To assist the nurse, to organize appointments. Time commitment: weekly or on-call.
On-going training and workshops are offered and encouraged.
NOVA is a registered charity and depends on support from the community – with donations being vital to their existence.
They also have five ‘Thrift Shops’ you might not be aware of: three in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, one in Beaurepaire Village in Beaconsfield and one in Kirkland. All the thrift stores are operated by Nova volunteers under the name of Fondation d’Entraide en Santé des Bénévole de Ste-Anne.
A fundraising breakfast was recently held and on Saturday November 14th they will be holding another fundraiser in collaboration with the Peali Arpana Academy of Dance. It will be a cultural evening of Indian Dances, Yoga and South Indian Food with dance teacher ‘Nrithyarani’ Lata Kalpalatha and certified yoga teacher Cynthia Maher. It sure to be a great evening – for a great cause.
Admission is $15 per adult, $5 for children. Tax receipts are available for donations of $20 and over. It will be held at the Roxboro United Church at 116 Cartier in Pierrefonds. Doors open at 5:30 pm and the event is from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. No reservations are required.
NOVA West Island serves the following municipalities: Baie d’Urfé, Beaconsfield, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Dorval, Ile Bizard, Ile Perrot, Kirkland, Lachine, Pierrefonds, Pincourt, Pointe-Claire, Roxboro, Senneville, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Ste-Geneviève, Terrasse-Vaudreuil.
For information and/or to volunteer please call the NOVA office in Beaconsfield at 514-695-8335
Families or clients can also call them for assistance or have a referral sent from a CLSC, hospital or doctor. Visit their website at: www.novawi.org