Hospice Society of the Columbia Valley expands its reach

The measurable difficulty of coping with extremely challenging emotions during a bereavement can be alleviated with some help.

The measurable difficulty of coping with extremely challenging emotions during a bereavement can be alleviated with some help.

Hospice Society of the Columbia Valley executive director Maria Kliavkoff presented information about the importance of involvement from volunteers and financial backers from Canal Flats at the Monday, April 27th regular Village of Canal Flats council meeting.

“I came down here because I wanted to report on what’s happened within the Hospice Society over the last two years,” Kliavkoff told councillors.

She offered insights about the goals set by the society about how to help mourners cope with grief spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

“We currently have 25 fully trained visitors,” she said. “We just interviewed 10 more and I just got an application (on April 27th) from three more who are interested in becoming visitors, which is great because the demand is exceeding our ability to deliver with our current base.”

Kliavkoff added the biggest challenge in assigning people to visit stems from a transient and busy group of volunteers.

“Sometimes, our volunteers are away for big parts of the year,” said Kliavkoff. “During the winter time, we’re working with about 17 of them. We have about 18 in the summertime, so having access to a new (group) will be great.”

Six board members and four volunteers from Canal Flats helped out with the hospice in 2014, which almost doubled the numbers from 2013 when there were three members and four volunteers from the village.

The Hospice Society of the Columbia Valley also has support from Regional District of East Kootenay Areas F and G, Radium Hot Springs and the District of


“In our first year of operations (between September 16th, 2013 and September 15th, 2014) for visitors in palliative care, we did 452 visits, which is quite remarkable,” Kliavkoff explained.

“That means we’re averaging more than one a day with all volunteer visitors who have done an

astonishing job.”

There were an additional 654 visits completed in 2014, totalling close to 1,000 since the services began being offered in Invermere.

“We know that there’s a need out there,” concluded Kliavkoff. “That’s palliative only. It doesn’t include bereavement, which (began) in January.”

In addition, the services may be expanding in the future, she added.

“The RCMP Victim Services approached us about doing a bereavement group specifically for those who have lost loved ones due to suicide or traumatic deaths, such as traffic fatalities, which normally isn’t hospice. However, the need is great in the Columbia Valley,”

said Kliavkoff.

“We applied for funding through the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) and they gave us all of the funding that we asked for to get the extended training that we need… We’re hoping that program will be up and running by next January because it’s four cycles of training in


Kliavkoff recently attended the second training session required to offer this service through the Hospice Society.

She requested $1,500, which covers two per cent of the overall annual budget to operate, from Canal Flats to Radium and Area G.