Conestoga news

April 17, 2015 1:22 PM

New programs address community need for palliative care

New certificate programs recently launched at Conestoga College will provide both new and experienced nursing staff with the specialized skills and knowledge to provide palliative and end-of-life care to individuals and their families across our community.

The new pilot programs, designed for registered nurses (RN) and personal support workers (PSW), are the result of an education partnership between the college and Lisaard House, Waterloo Region’s only residential cancer hospice. Programs were developed by Lesley Hirst, president of the Palliative Care Nurses Interest Group within the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, who also delivers the RN training.

“Developing specialized training programs that meet the needs of our community is a priority for Conestoga,” said Marlene Raasok, executive dean of the college's School of Health & Life Sciences and Community Services. “We’re very pleased to have the opportunity to work with Lisaard House to build the skills and knowledge of local health-care workers to enhance palliative care across our region.”

The new RN and PSW training programs integrate knowledge with practice, combining classroom studies with practicum or work placements focused on palliative care. The RN program will prepare graduates to write the national certification exam for Hospice Palliative Care.

The initial intake in mid-March 2015 was customized to meet the specific training needs for front-line staff at Innisfree House, a new hospice to be opened in the summer of 2015. Current Lisaard House staff will complete the training later this year. The programs will be available to nurses and PSWs across the region in future.

Support for the delivery of the programs has been provided though the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), with funds flowed through the local Community Care Access Centre, and through the Canada Ontario Jobs Grant.

"The new funding we are providing will enhance palliative and residential hospice care in Waterloo Region,” said Bruce Lauckner, CEO of Waterloo Wellington LHIN. “Building a better health-care system is one part of building a better community and we cannot do it alone. We are thrilled with the partnership and support from Conestoga College. The training they will provide will help those who deliver palliative and end-of-life care every day."

According to Connie Dwyer, executive director at Lisaard House, hospices provide an alternative for the growing number of palliative patients in our community who do not wish to spend their final days in hospital, but require more support than can be provided at home. Care offered through Lisaard and Innisfree includes pain and symptom management as well as compassionate professional care and support for the residents and their families.

The new hospice, located in south Kitchener on land leased from Conestoga College, will provide 10 additional palliative care beds to bridge the gap between institutional care facilities and home care for those in our community facing end-of-life diseases. For more information, visit