Nancy Macey has spent more than two decades working to ensure people in Delta have the support and services they need when nearing the end of their life or dealing with a life-threatening illness.
Macey, who moved to Tsawwassen in 1970 and describes herself as a professional volunteer, started the Delta Hospice Society in 1991 and is its executive director.
Three years ago, the society opened the Irene Thomas Hospice and the Harold & Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care in Ladner.
Q: What was your vision when you started the Delta Hospice Society?
A: Unlike what everybody thinks, it wasn't what we have right now. Basically my vision was to try and reduce suffering, and that was it. And to make a connection with people so they knew where to find resources and support so people weren't suffering, and that was it. It wasn't having a big building and all of this, it was very simplistic but I think that goal still stands today.
Q: Now that the hospice and supportive care centre have become a reality, what is your next goal for the society?
A: Sustainability into the future. And to build more of what we have in terms of the services. I just hired another part-time counsellor because we're being run off our
feet with the need for that emotional and spiritual support. It's so far beyond what I thought was possible, what we've achieved, that I'm still sort of basking in the reality that we've actually done it.
Q: You mentioned that you just had to hire another counsellor. How busy is the hospice these days?
A: Our beds are usually pretty much full. We do take people from other communities because that is part of our connection with Fraser Health, but we certainly seem to be able to support our Delta families. It's almost full all of the time, there's such a demand.
Q: What drives your passion for providing end-of-life care and support for people, caregivers and families?
A: I think I'm highly sensitive to people and their feelings. Partly what I've gone through as a person but I'm just highly sensitive to people and I can't stand suffering.
So it's just trying to not see people suffer be it emotional pain, any kind of suffering. I just find that is what drives me. It's that simple.
Q: What are your hopes for the future of hospice palliative care services in B.C.?
A: That's a hard one because it's so fractioned across the region. It's a very new discipline in the formal health care system, so I think physicians play a huge role in terms of understanding conversations they need to be having with families. They need to be more knowledgeable around proper drugs and pain management, because they're going to play an important role. But I think the strategies coming from the government supporting end-of-life care because it all comes down to dollars in the end.
Q: There is still a lot of fear associated with death and dying, and it's not a topic that is openly discussed a lot. Do you think that needs to change?
A: Absolutely. I think we've come a long way. I think now it's a lot more out in the open. To me, it's a lot like if you see something in the paper about diabetes and you don't have diabetes you don't pay any attention to it. I don't know if we can ever do enough education but I also don't want to put a lot of resources there when people actually don't want it until they need it.