Warm Welcome to St. Joseph’s Hospice

Reception volunteer Susan Gray leans forward expectantly as the third-floor elevator door opens with a quiet whoosh. She can tell by the way the visitors pause uncertainly that this is their first time at St. Joseph’s Hospice. She greets them with a hello that feels more like a hug.

“Every visitor who crosses our threshold is doing so with some degree of heightened emotion. When we are sensitive to that, we can ease that stress a tiny bit. We can relate to being that family member parachuting into a difficult situation and feeling very ill prepared. As part of our greeting, we like to walk first-time visitors down to the suite of their loved one. It is so important to create a comfortable experience. I view Hospice as our residents’ final new home. My hope is to welcome their loved ones on their behalf.”

– Susan Gray

Susan’s experience of palliative care began two decades ago, long before she became a regular St. Joseph’s Hospice volunteer. She recalls her trepidation upon entering the palliative care unit for the first time, and her profound relief at meeting the wonderful nurse who was both calm and kind. “She walked us through it. It was a pivotal experience for me, to see that death could be managed in a peaceful way that would be a solace to family members who were gathered.”

After retiring from a teaching career in Fanshawe College’s School of Tourism and Hospitality, memories of that compassionate nurse stayed with Susan. Encouraged by a friend, she found her way to St. Joseph’s Hospice with the desire to be of service as a volunteer. From her first visit, Hospice felt like home.

“The hallways were illuminated with sunshine, and I had an immediate, almost palpable sense that I belonged here. Being a Hospice reception volunteer is my version of ‘Let me get the door for you’ or ‘You rest – I’ll go grab the phone’. When someone is at their most vulnerable – in all aspects – it is such an honour to be that helpful presence, for whatever they need.”

– Susan Gray

What Susan describes is what the staff, volunteers, donors and supporters continue to do for St. Joseph’s Hospice. They work together to provide compassionate, hospice palliative care for our community, offering the specialized services that people need, wherever they want to be – in their own homes or in our small, homelike setting.