What is Community Engagement?

Many people are afraid to talk about end of life, dying and bereavement. These are often considered taboo subjects — but they don’t need to be.

Hospice of Waterloo Region actively engages WITH our community to build a better understanding of what it means to live well until the end. We support people through all walks of life. Perhaps you want to know how to start a conversation about what matters most to you. Or maybe you have a serious illness and are looking for support for you and your family.

A compassionate community is one that recognizes that all natural cycles of sickness and health, birth and death, and love and loss occur every day …. ..its residents recognize that care  for one another at times of crisis and loss is not simply the task of the health and social services but is EVERYONE’s responsibility.

- Prof Allan Kellehear

How We Engage with the Community

We offer a broad network of support, and we do this in a number of ways. This collaborative effort can involve raising awareness, educational and skills training, connecting with existing resources, building partnerships, and creating new approaches.

Building a compassionate community requires a collaborative effort, and Hospice of Waterloo Region is committed to partnering with the community in the workplace, in places of worship, in academic settings and anywhere else that people gather together. Our goal is to open up the conversation about death and dying and build the capacity of each and every one of us to support and care for the dying and the grieving.

Here are some of the ways we invite you to join us in building our compassionate community:

  • Advance Care PlanningIf you are too ill or injured, who will make health care decisions for yourself? These public sessions are focused on helping you understand Advance Care Planning in Ontario. These are about planning ahead for your own health care and the information you need to be sharing so that you have a voice in how you live until you die. Our expert Ambassador team can provide in-person/virtual group sessions, as well as 1:1 coaching on ACP (tailored to your needs and time). Watch recordings of the virtual sessions.
  • Death Has Been Hijacked – What you need to know about Hospice of Waterloo Region and how to support someone who is dying/bereaved. Our team of Ambassadors can provide tailored presentations on our work here at Hospice of Waterloo Region and who we support the community. We are also launching a new education session called Last Aid that focuses on what YOU need to know to be able to support someone who is dying /grieving.
  • Death CaféWithout a set agenda, this is an engaging way to connect with others in candid conversation to help us live life more fully now. This informal gathering provides a supportive space once a month to share thoughts, ideas, concerns, questions and experiences about end of life, loss, death and dying. Be mindful that this is not a counseling or grief support group.
  • Film FridayLet the Arts be a catalyst for conversation! Join us here at the Hospice of Waterloo Region building as we gather to watch and discuss both old and new films that bring us unique perspectives on death, dying and bereavement. You might be surprised to find that there is humour and healthy debate along with moments that pull at your heartstrings.
  • Book StudiesIsn’t it true that we learn best through stories? Join our passionate facilitators as they search the book publishing community for great books and stories that spark lively and thought-provoking discussion. These sessions may be offered in person or virtually.
  • #YODOContest Short Film CompetitionHospice Waterloo Region is proud to partner with the Grand River Film Festival on this annual short film contest, which calls on local filmmakers and storytellers to tell stories that focus on death as a part of life. You Only Die Once: #YODOContest is about living well until you die. This phrase reminds us that life matters right until the end, and that how we live to the end does matter. Learn more.

Advance Care Planning in Ontario

ACP is simply planning ahead for your future health care. It’s deciding who will make health care decisions for you in the event you are too ill or injured to make those decisions for yourself. In Ontario, deciding who will be your Substitute Decision Maker (SDM) and having conversations with them about what matters to you helps ensure that YOUR medical care wrapped around YOUR wishes and priorities.

Have Questions?

For more information about community activities, please contact Sheli O’Connor, the Director of Community Engagement and Partnerships at Hospice Waterloo Region: sheli@hospicewaterloo.ca

Hospice Waterloo Region is grateful for funding from the Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation in support of many of these community activities.

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