Laurier Day of Humour in support of the Stedman Community Hospice

Laurier Day of Humour in support of the Stedman Community Hospice
Published on Thursday,31 March, 2016

Councillors want more funding for hospice beds

Councillors want more funding for hospice beds
Published on Monday,28 March, 2016

City councillors are calling on the provincial government to increase funding to support the opening of four more beds at the Hankinson House hospice.

Councillors voted in favour of a resolution calling for the additional funding at a committee meeting of the whole on Tuesday. The resolution will come before councillors for a final vote at a city council meeting next week.

The resolution was brought forward by Ward 3 Coun. Dan McCreary, who noted that only six of the available 10 beds at the hospice are currently being used.

More than $6 million was raised by the St. Joseph's Lifecare Foundation, including $1.25 million from the city and $1 million from the Hankinson family, to build Hankinson House.

In addition to the building, funds raised in the community are used to pay for the staff who oversee the hospice, utility bills and food. Funding for nursing and personal support workers comes from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The ministry approved funding for six hospice beds in 2005.

Meanwhile, the provincial government has conducted a review of end-of-life care in the province.

In its 2016 budget, the province is proposing to invest an additional $75 million over three years to give patients more options and access to palliative and end-of-life care, said Derrick Bernardo, president of St. Joseph's Lifecare Centre, which operates the hospice.

The investment includes funding support for up to 20 new hospices across Ontario and increased funding for existing facilities, he added.

St. Joseph's officials are working with Brant MPP Dave Levac on obtaining funding for the additional beds.

Hankinson House was built to increase the number of hospice beds available in response to an increase in demand. As well, there has been an increase in demand from the community for the day wellness, grief and bereavement and outreach services offered by the hospice.

One wing of Hankinson House is being used for additional day wellness programming, patient/family meetings and clinical education.

"We are anxiously awaiting news of funding so we may utilize this wing for much-needed patient care to meet the identified need in our community," Bernardo said.
Hike for Hospice has $275,000 goal

Hike for Hospice has $275,000 goal
Published on Monday,21 March, 2016

BRANTFORD - Online registrations are being accepted for the 12th annual Hike for Hospice on Sunday, May 1 in support of Stedman Community Hospice.

Organizers are hoping to surpass last year's fundraising total of $275,133. Upward of 2,000 people are expected to participate.

The hike includes a one-kilometre route around the neighbourhood of St. Joseph's Lifecare Centre, 99 Gretzky Parkway, which participants are encouraged to do as many times as they wish.

New this year is a $1,000 top team prize donated by the Keg Steakhouse and a $100 toy store gift certificate for the top youth prize.

"Our goal has always been to ensure that no hospice patients or family ever gets a bill for the care they so desperately need and deserve," said Olga Consorti, president and CEO of St. Joseph's Lifecare Foundation. "Even though the hike is a one-day event, we work on it throughout the year as it's the only fundraising event we do for the hospice.

"That way we combine all the efforts of our staff, volunteers and sponsors to have one incredible event for the community."

Hikers who register and raise $50 in pledges will be entered into two Early Bird draws to be held March 24 and April 22. Prizes include a gym membership, a Fitbit, and a 40-inch flat screen TV. Participants must register by March 23 and raise $50 in pledges to be entered into both Early Bird Draws or by April 21 to be entered into the second draw only.

There are also prizes for top fundraisers, including a choice of a $1,500 gift certificate for a vacation package donated by Goliger's Travel Plus or a Via Rail voucher valued at $1,750 for a return trip for four anywhere between Brantford and Montreal.

Sharp Bus Lines are donating their buses to shuttle hikers from Lynden Park Mall to the hike site. Everyone who parks at the mall will be entered into a draw for a $250 mall gift card.

Anyone who collects $100 or more in pledges will be entered into a draw to win a 48-inch flat screen TV. Hikers will also receive a limited edition pair of Hike Sunglasses for every $250 they collect, along with a ballot to win other prizes.

Hike festivities begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 1 with a Celebration of Life service to honour those lost and those who are living with a life-threatening illness.

Early registration and check-in is set for Saturday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the St. Joe's parking lot at 99 Wayne Gretzky Parkway off of Chatham Street, where the hike begins and ends. Pre-registration is encouraged at The registration fee for all hikers is $20, which includes a hike T-shirt and barbecue after the event.

Registration on hike day, May 1, starts at 11 a.m. The hike begins at 1 p.m.
Expositor Staff
Early Birds Get the Prizes!

Early Birds Get the Prizes!
Published on Thursday,10 March, 2016

Brant News
By Sean Allen

Organizers of Brantford’s 12th annual Hike for Hospice are dangling some carrots to encourage participants to sign up and start raising money early for the May 1 fundraiser.

Hikers who register and collect $50 in pledges before March 24 or April 22 are eligible for early-bird draw prizes worth more than $500.

"The hospice is the brainchild of this community and we are so thankful that there are people out there who believe in it so much that they are willing to donate to bring this special project to life,” St. Joseph’s Lifecare Foundation president Olga Consorti said.

St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre funds and operates the brand new $6.7-million Hankinson House hospice in the community. The new building opened in 2014 to replace the Stedman Community Hospice, which has operated since 2006.

Online registrations are now being accepted at and in-person registrations can be done at the St. Joseph’s Lifecare Foundation office, 99 Wayne Gretzky Parkway.

Those registered with $50 pledged before March 23 will be eligible for the first early-bird draw for a one-year gym membership to the Brantford Fitness Centre and a Fitbit activity tracker.

They will also be eligible for the second early-bird draw, along with other registrants with $50 before April 21, for a 40-inch flat screen TV from FM Audio.

Sponsors continue to help drive the incentive for participants to raise money.

The top fundraiser for the Hike for Hospice will receive a $1,500 gift certificate from Goliger’s Travel Plus or a VIA Rail roundtrip for four anywhere between Brantford and Montreal.

New this year is a $1,000 top team prize donated by the Keg Steakhouse and a $100 toy store gift certificate for the top fundraising youth.

"We hope the community continues to rise to the challenge to help us keep the hospice doors open and the love and care abundant,” Consorti said. "Hikers securing pledges or making donations of their own are a vital part of our success, coupled with our incredible sponsors for the day."

The hike, in which participants will walk a one-kilometre circuit around the St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre neighbourhood, raised $275,133 last year with more than 1,000 participants all wearing the event’s signature yellow T-shirts. There are other raffle prizes available for top fundraisers, including Toronto Raptors tickets.

"Our goal has always been to ensure that no hospice patients or family ever gets a bill for the care they so desperately need and deserve,” Consorti said. "Even though the hike is a one day event, we work on it throughout the year as it’s the only fundraising event we do for the hospice.

"That way, we combine all the efforts of our staff, volunteers and sponsors to have one incredible event for the community, with the hope that everyone comes through for us to help us meet our demanding fundraising needs for programs and services not funded by the government.”

The event typically draws heavy traffic to the area of Wayne Gretzky Parkway at Chatham Street, so the hospice is grateful for Sharp Bus Lines' donation of free shuttle buses. During the day of the walk, buses will be running between the event and Lynden Park Mall to allow participants to park off-site. The buses will run from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and those who take advantage of the shuttles will be entered into a draw for a $250 Lynden Park Mall gift card.

Hike festivities will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 1, with a celebration of live service for those who died at the hospice and those living with life-threatening illness.

The registration for the hike is $20 and includes a hike T-shirt and post-hike barbecue.

Pre-hike check-ins are encouraged on Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in order to reduce lineups on the day of the event. Registration on the day of the hike begins at 11 a.m.

Organizers will have family-friendly activities on offer throughout the day, including rides, face painting and craft areas.

For more information, contact St. Joseph’s Lifecare Foundation at 519-751-7096, ext. 2475, or visit online for more details.
Hospice officials hopeful for funding - Expositor Feb 23, 2016

Hospice officials hopeful for funding - Expositor Feb 23, 2016
Published on Tuesday,23 February, 2016

Officials at St. Joseph Lifecare Centre are hoping to get good news in the next couple of months concerning unused beds at the new Hankinson House hospice.

"I know that the ministry wanted to take a really close look at hospice care and wanted to work out a plan on end-of-life care for the province," Derrick Bernardo, president of St. Joseph's Lifecare Centre and the Stedman Community Hospice, which operates Hankinson House.

"It's my understanding that the review (of end-of-life care) has been done and is now in the hands of the parliamentary secretary to (Health) Minister Eric Hoskins. We remain hopeful and, in the meantime, the building is being fully utilized."

In addition to end-of-life care, the hospice offers a range of services, including an outreach program that provides end-of-life care to the people in their homes and educational and bereavement programs.

At issue is that only six of the 10 beds at Hankinson House are being used.

Construction of the $6.7-million Hankinson House was completed with funds raised in the community by St. Joseph's Lifecare Foundation. Community funding is also used to pay for the core workers who oversee the hospice, plus utility bills and food.

However, the provincial government pays for nursing and personal support workers staff. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care approved six residential beds for the hospice in 2005.

St. Joseph's. in response to community need for more end-of-life care service, developed and followed through on plans to expand their services and increase the number of residential beds to 10 from six.

Provincial government officials have pointed out that St. Joseph's undertook construction of Hankinson House on its own.

St. Joseph's officials have continued to lobby the provincial government for additional funding.

"We're grateful for the support we have received from the community, the City of Brantford and our provincial representative MPP Dave Levac," Bernardo said. "Everyone has been very supportive and we're hoping to have some news within the next couple of months."

Meanwhile, Ward 3 Coun. Dan McCreary wants city council to voice its support for provincial funding for the hospice.

McCreary has filed a notice of motion calling on the province to "honour the Stedman Community Hospice Hankinson House by increasing funding to permit the opening of four beds now shuttered due to underfunding."

The notice of motion is due to be introduced at Tuesday's meeting of city council. It will be put on the agenda for further discussion at a future committee-of-the-whole meeting.

McCreary said he became aware of the issue when a friend, who received end-of-life care at Hankinson House, died. People remarked on the excellent care she received and noted that more people could be helped if funding was available to open the four beds.

In his motion, McCreary noted that St. Joseph's foundation raised from the community more than $6 million, including $1.25 million from the municipality and $1 million from the Hankinson family.

"Of all the things the provincial government spends money on, I have to think that this has got to be at or near the top of their list in terms of priorities," McCreary said. "This is something that's important to a lot of people in this community."

Hundreds Attend Funeral for Evan

Hundreds Attend Funeral for Evan
Published on Thursday,10 December, 2015

Brantford Expositor

Susan Gamble

Instead, more than 7,000 turned out for a huge parade and Christmas lights were put up in spots around North America in tribute to the dying youngster.

"How on earth could a little seven-year-old do so much living?" asked Barna. "Maclean's magazine has said he was the boy who moved Christmas! Who can do that?"

Barna called on the St. George community to make an annual effort to put up Christmas lights each year during the week of Oct. 24 in memory of Evan.

Aunt Ashley Agar said that there is something about Evan that made people want to bend rules and step out of their comfort zones.

"He had a tough road to walk but never cried or complained about his lot in life. He was completely average and totally magical. That's our Evan."

Evan's mother, Nicole Wellwood thanked the community who gave her son such joy during his last months.

"We couldn't have done it without this community."

Part of that community help came from the Stedman Community Hospice in Brantford, where Evan died. He had been in hospice care since Nov. 4.

Hospice staff and volunteers not only took care of Evan and his family over the last few weeks, but also dealt with the outpouring of interest in the boy's case.

"It was an incredible experience to field media requests from around the world," said Olga Consorti, the president and CEO of St. Joseph's Lifecare Foundation, which is the fundraising organization for the hospice and the St. Joseph's Lifecare Centre. "Overall, everyone was pretty respectful of the family's wishes."

Hospice executive director Cheryl Moore said she found Evan to be "beyond his years."

"Evan lived more life and experienced more love than some people do in 90 years."

During the funeral, Evan's longtime paramedic friend, Jeff Sager, a platoon commander at Perth County Emergency Medical Services, announced to great applause that he had communicated with Gov.-Gen. David Johnston and arranged for Evan to receive a miniature replica of his own Governor-General's award.

Sager asked Evan's brother, Logan, to receive the award on behalf of his brother.

In a brief address to the media following the funeral, Evan's mother spoke on behalf of the more than 10,000 Canadian children who are battling cancer.

"I pray he can make a difference," Wellwood said.

The family has established Evan's Legacy in partnership with the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada and urge funds to be donated to help find the cause of and a cure for brain tumours, at

After the funeral, white-gloved pallbearers carried and then wheeled Evan's casket to the adjacent cemetery, past a line of firefighters with helmets over their hearts and OPP officers saluting beside their motorcycles.

At the graveside, the pallbearers removed their white gloves and laid them atop the casket, each set held down by a rose.

Then people were invited to release a balloon as a final farewell to Evan.

Evan’s Journey Ended in the Arms of his Loving Mom

Evan’s Journey Ended in the Arms of his Loving Mom
Published on Sunday, 6 December, 2015

Brantford Expositor
A seven-year-old St. George boy who captured the hearts of thousands has died at the Stedman Community Hospice in Brantford.  The hospice said that Evan Leversage, who battled brain cancer most of his life, died Sunday morning in the arms of his mother, Nicole Wellwood, who had been sleeping by his side in his hospice bed. He also was surrounded by family members, who have kept a vigil since Evan was admitted to the hospice on Nov. 4.
"His smile, his laughter and the impact he has had on my life, that's what I will remember most about Evan," Wellwood said Sunday night.  "The impact Evan has had on the world in his seven years is further reaching and more enduring than most souls who get to stay here 10 times longer," she said in a statement.  "Without eloquent speeches, profound wisdom and doing anything more than being himself, he stirred hearts around the world, "His quiet bravery, simple wishes and signature thumbs up, inspired caring strangers to reach out in love and support.
"He came to represent all children and families who struggle with health issues, especially childhood cancer."
Evan was born in Stratford to Wellwood and Travis Leversage. He has an older brother, Logan, and a younger brother, Tyson. Wellwood moved to St. George with the boys about three years ago.  Just two days before his second birthday, Evan was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.  He spent a lot of time in hospital and at medical appointments but endured the endless rounds of chemotherapy with courage, patience and good humour,  said Wellwood. 
"Evan was a typical little boy who loved Sponge Bob, Pokemon, Batman, Lady Gaga and practical jokes," she said. "He loved animals - horses, rabbits and especially dogs.  "He greatly loved having a big brother in Logan and a little brother in Tyson."  Evan also took a special interest in big trucks and emergency vehicles and those who drove them.
In September, doctors told Evan's family there was nothing more they could do for the boy. They recommended that if Christmas was important to Evan, the family should move the celebration forward.

In October, the people of St. George and the surrounding area banded together so Evan could experience one last Christmas. The event included a Christmas parade with 25 floats, police and fire vehicles, a pipe band and Clydesdale horses.  The village sported Christmas decorations and snow machines were brought in to blanket part of Evan's street with snow.  The boy got to hop onto Santa's sleigh and ride with him through the streets of St. George with thousands of townspeople looking on.
It was a massive undertaking that attracted lots of media attention and put the spotlight on Evan and childhood cancer. The event also attracted international attention through a Facebook page called Light Up St. George.
The boy's story attracted international attention with people reaching out from as far away as Australia and the United Kingdom, among other places.
"One of Evan's favourite things to do was to have his family read all the mail that he received from caring people around the world. The family was told by the St. George post office that Evan has received even more mail than letters to Santa," said a statement from the hospice posted on its website.
Evan's story also caught the attention of Ontario Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, who sent a letter. "Evan, thank you for being the Christmas Angel the world needs now," it read.
The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada joined with his family earlier this year to launch a fundraising campaign to support research into childhood brain cancer.  Wellwood said that Evan's legacy is one of hope.  "Hope that other children who are on his path are not shortchanged of a full and rich life," she said.  "Hope that other families do not have to go through such pain and suffering and say goodbye to their children. Hope that love always shines the brightest."
Social media was flooded with condolences Sunday.
"RIP Evan Leversage. You did what most of us never will -- you brought a community together in love," one person posted.
Visitation for Evan will be at Providence Free Reformed Church, 269 St. George Rd., St. George, on Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m and on Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.  A funeral service will be held at the church Thursday at 1 p.m.  Funeral arrangements are being handled by Dennis Toll Funeral Home, 55 Charing Cross St. Brantford.  A link to a livestream of the funeral service can be found at

Dementia experience a humbling eye-opener - Brant News - Nov 19, 2015

Dementia experience a humbling eye-opener - Brant News - Nov 19, 2015
Published on Thursday,19 November, 2015

Photo by Olga Consorti, For Brant News

Brant News reporter Brian Shypula holds plastic container during a simulated dementia exercise at St. Joseph's Lifecare Centre. The goggles and gloves were intended to mimic some of the health and mobility challenges experienced by senior.

Brant News

By Brian Shypula

I failed, miserably. And hopefully I’m a better person for the experience.

Tasks like putting away laundry and counting golf tees should have been a piece of cake. Instead, they were a plate of humble pie.

I volunteered to take the Virtual Dementia Tour at St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre this week and write about it for the Brant News.

P.K. Beville, a geriatric psychologist and founder of the non-profit seniors advocacy group Second Wind Dreams, created the Virtual Dementia Tour, an experiential kit used to simulate the symptoms of age-related Alzheimer’s and dementia, to help caregivers better identify and cope with patients’ behaviours and needs.

I was eager to learn. Like many families, mine is touched by dementia. My mother-in-law Mary has Alzheimer’s. My uncle Walt, too. It’s heartbreaking to see them drift away from who they were.

Nicole Zinn-Schadenberger, a psycho-geriatric resource consultant with the Alzheimer Society, prepped me for the tour.

She put popcorn kernels in my shoes to make it uncomfortable to walk, just like a senior could experience from bunions or side effects from diabetes.

Weights attached to my right wrist and right ankle mimicked the after-effects of a stroke or injuries from a fall.

Special goggles simulated cataracts. It was like walking around in dense fog.

Cotton balls were stuffed in my ears to make it harder to hear.

Finally, I wore latex gloves filled with cotton and popcorn kernels. On my right hand, my thumb and index finger were taped together. A stick prevented me from bending those digits. On my left hand, the index and middle fingers got the same treatment. The idea was simulate osteoarthritis or injuries from a fall. I had little ability to grip things.

Oh, I almost forgot the walker.

I was led to another room and given five tasks to accomplish in five minutes: match and fold laundry in a laundry basket; remove and replace lids on a set of plastic containers; count the number of golf tees in a box; spread jam on two crackers…. The last instruction was deliberately muffled and I couldn’t hear it. No repeats of questions allowed.

All along there were loud voices and music, like a TV set cranked up and forgotten. A flashing red strobe light added to the disorienting atmosphere.

I found the plastic containers first and knocked at least one off the table in my new clumsy state. Some didn’t have lids. Why were they there? I could barely pry off the lids using my pinky and ring fingers.

Sort and fold laundry? I couldn’t even find the basket through my hazy vision.

Golf tees? Again, I couldn’t find the box through the cataracts, even though it was cleverly marked in a golf ball design.

Crackers and jam? I was toast.

As a reporter I like to believe I’m good at listening and remembering details. Not hearing the fifth task, I think, increased my anxiety from the start. People experience elevated blood pressure during the tour. I was having trouble remembering the other assignments.

I consider myself an easy-going person, but at the same time I don’t like to lose, whether it’s in sports or the office election pool. So scoring zero for five in the tasks was humbling.

Frustration gave way to some anger when I realized I wasn’t going to get anything done. Then apathy set in. Time was running out and I didn’t care.

In the post-mortem with Zinn-Schadenberger, I learned that my experience was pretty typical.

I tried to rummage through almost everything in the room. It’s a common behaviour for someone with Alzheimer’s. I had the shuffling gait, too.

"People who have dementia might wander into other people’s rooms or might be looking for something. They’re looking for something familiar,” Zinn-Schadenberger said.

But even if they find what they’re looking for, they might not remember they were looking for it.

Difficulty understanding instructions is another common experience for someone with a dementia. It’s a good lesson not to walk away from someone you’re speaking to.

"We just have to be conscientious of knowing that there are reasons why people do the things they do, Zinn-Schadenberger said.

"All behaviour has meaning.”


About 80 per cent of staff members at St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre have taken the dementia tour. They include direct caregivers and support staff like housekeeping.

"It was eye-opening,” said Jen Utley, a business clerk who took the tour the same day.

Although Utley doesn’t provide care to patients, there is interaction. One resident often asks her if he is paid up in his rent.

"I’ll tell him 20 more times if I have to in a positive way. I don’t want to him to feel that I’m losing patience with him,” she said.

The experience was a good reminder to practice compassion in cases like someone fumbling for change in a checkout line, she said. They might have one or some of the physical challenges simulated in the test.

Derrick Bernardo, president of St. Joseph's Lifecare Centre, recently participated in a provincial roundtable discussion on gaps in dementia care.

"One of the biggest things is educating our community,” he said.

St. Joseph’s would like to partner with the Alzheimer’s Society to bring the Virtual Dementia Tour to the public, including school visits.

"Really the goal is to have just a more compassionate community,” said Olga Consorti, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s Lifecare Foundation, which fundraises to make the Virtual Dementia Tour and other improvements to St. Joseph’s dementia unit possible.

For example, residents’ rooms have a number and street name, just like their old addresses. They include Lilac Lane and Bluebird Terrace, with matching colour coding intended to trigger familiarity for the residents and their families.

"A lot of those enhancements that we have were chosen by the residents themselves,” said Jennifer Miller, director of care.

The dementia unit has themed activity areas. They’re called "resident home areas” in the industry but St. Joseph’s prefers to call them "neighbourhoods.” They include a "market” room with replica food items to simulate shopping. The "garage” lounge conjures the car era of residents’ heyday, with an old-fashioned gas pump, vintage signs and automotive advertising.

A Snoezelen room provides sensory stimulation through various sights, sounds and smells.

Colourful murals blend walls with doors at elevators and exits, intended to distract residents from trying to leave, another common behaviour in dementia patients.
Virtual Dementia Tour Creates Awareness - Expositor; Nov 17, 2015

Virtual Dementia Tour Creates Awareness - Expositor; Nov 17, 2015
Published on Tuesday,17 November, 2015

Click Here to read the article.
Random Acts of Kindness as simple as coffee and tea – Article on Nov 6, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness as simple as coffee and tea – Article on Nov 6, 2015
Published on Tuesday,17 November, 2015

Photo by Sean Allen, Brant News

St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre residents Bea Sutton and Shirley Ivory enjoy coffee, tea and sweets delivered by RBC’s Narima Whitman, Ryan Enyedi and France Thibeault as part of Random Acts of Kindness Day on Friday at St. Joe’s.

Taking part in Random Acts of Kindness Day was billed to be as simple as buying someone a coffee.

That was certainly a popular theme on Friday as the Brant Community Foundation and Random Acts of Kindness committee encouraged residents in the community to perform simple acts of kindness that could then be paid forward by the recipient.

RAK committee chair France Thibeault and some co-workers from RBC decided to drop in on the current events group at St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre with some coffee, tea and treats from Sweet Bakery.

The group of 10 residents and the long-term care home was happy for the visit after just finishing a crossword puzzle as a group.

Brantford Police and County of Brant OPP officers used coffee to be kind, too.

Officers were handing out Tim Hortons cards donated by the Brant Community Foundation during the day.

One "kindness chain” shared on the RAK Facebook page started with coffee in the morning and ended in chocolate suckers after being passed on four times at local businesses Smashing Pixels, Jack Rabbits, The Closet Door and Lock and Key Treasures.


Sean Allen is a reporter at Brant News. Connect with him on twitter @seanard
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