My name is Peter and I would like to share my father’s end-of-life journey at The Salvation Army Toronto Grace Health Centre (TGHC). My father Peter Sr. was diagnosed with dementia and moved into a nursing home. Eventually, he was admitted into a hospital where the doctors told us that he was in the last stage of his illness, and that perhaps he should return to the nursing home for his end-of-life journey. This was recognizably overwhelming and very stressful for all of us because our family had experienced a similar situation when our mother passed away. Our experience with her passing made us aware of the similar challenges we would face if our father returned to the nursing home. We felt and insisted that the right choice would be to admit him to a palliative care unit where they could maximize the quality of his life and hopefully provide him with a good death. We were given three choices and we chose the TGHC, miraculously, they had a bed.
From the moment my father arrived at TGHC we felt blessed. Everyone from the doctor to the nurses on the interprofessional health team immediately put us at ease minimizing our stress and anxiety. They were inclusive and made us aware of what to expect. Knowing we were in the right place was instant and reassuring. The interprofessional health team greeted and updated us every day, we felt included and a part of the team; everyone it seemed was focused on our father’s end-of-life journey. My sister Susan and I were amazed at the consistency of care that the nurses and interprofessional health team, and even the volunteers provided. We both came to the conclusion and truly believed that the staff at TGHC were “angels with wings under their uniforms.”
Everyday I had a ritual where I would come in the morning and shave my dad. For no particular reason I was a few minutes late on the morning that he passed. When I entered his room I found a nurse holding him in her arms. She said, “that he must have known I was in the building because he just passed.” I was disappointed about my absence at that moment of his passing, but I was happy that someone had been there to take care of him.
“The care, compassion and communication at TGHC was unbelievable, to me and my family; it’s the little hospital that could.” My dad was at peace, our family was at peace and the TGHC gave our father a dignified death. It is what we hoped.