Hospice House vision

The Cowichan Hospice House project

A hospice house is a centre where people can receive excellent pain and symptom management in a setting that provides an opportunity, as a family, to be present and involved in the care of your loved one.

Cowichan Hospice is committed to raising the funds both to build a ten-bed hospice and to support whole person care once it opens. Our staff and trained volunteers will provide emotional, spiritual, and practical support for patients and family members.

What will Cowichan Hospice House offer?

  • A home-like atmosphere where expert round-the-clock medical care is woven with emotional, spiritual and practical support.
  • A place where family is supported and encouraged to be involved with the patient’s care.
  • Design will accommodate patients with large families, as well as providing for quiet and privacy.
  • A family kitchen will allow a taste of home and a gathering place for families on a similar journey.
  • A beautiful garden will offer both views and the opportunity to be in nature.
  • A culturally and spiritually safe space that is welcoming to all.
what is hospice palliative care?

Hospice palliative care is whole person care for those living with advanced illness.

  • Manages pain and symptoms more effectively
  • Focuses on quality of life rather than cure
  • Based on a plan of care focused on the dying person’s own goals and priorities – which may evolve and change
  • It is care that holds the dying person in the centre, and includes those the dying person defines as family
  • It is collaborative care
  • Supports family/caregivers through bereavement
  • Offers the possibility of autonomy, dignity and joy at end of life
the need
  • Cowichan is the only community its size on the island that does not have a hospice house.
  • Most of us say that we would like to be cared for at home at the end of our lives. This is often not possible: if family members cannot be there around the clock for many weeks or if symptom management becomes complex or more intensive.
  • Our aging and overcrowded hospital is the only real alternative in Cowichan.
  • Last year Cowichan Hospice served over 800 people living with an advancing illness, supporting a loved one, or grieving a death.
  • The population over age 75 in our region is the fastest growing demographic and is expected to more than double in the next 10 years.
  • A residential hospice facility will provide appropriate, specialized care at about half the cost of care in the hospital.
the opportunity
  • Island Health made a commitment to double the number of hospice beds across the island in their 2014 End of Life Program Priorities Update.
  • Island Health will provide nursing care and cover infrastructure costs like utilities, food & laundry, repair & maintenance of the building.
  • Cowichan Hospice is committed to raising the funds both to build a ten-bed hospice and to support whole person care once it opens.
  • Cowichan Hospice staff and trained volunteers will provide emotional, spiritual and practical support for patients and family members.
  • 3 of 10 patient rooms will be available for future growth, while 7 will be opened when the house opens in 2020.
  • The hospice bed at Chemainus Health Care Centre will continue to operate, the two end-of-life beds in Ladysmith will be repurposed as community access beds for respite and those need low acuity palliative care.
  • The Cowichan Hospice House will be a purpose-built facility linked to Cairnsmore Place.
  • Island Health has made a committment to consult with Cowichan Hospice, the Cowichan District Hospital Foundation and the general community before the health authority ever considers re-purposing the facility. 
project timeline


  • Announcement by the Island Health Authority of commitment to provide staff, operational and maintenance funding for a cluster of 7 hospice beds to serve residents within the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
  • The cluster must be co-located with an existing residential care facility.


  • Cowichan Valley Hospice House Task Force formed
  • Identify possible co-location sites for Hospice House
  • Cairnmore Place site selected
  • Completion of research of hospice care facilities in BC, Ontario and Europe to model a Cowichan facility based on existing centres of excellence


  • Development of concept design
  • Sign Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Island Health


  • Conduct feasibility study as to best placement of Hospice House on Cairnsmore Place property to utilize space, share infrastructure and provide adequate greenspace and privacy for residents and families, and to establish costs.


  • Prepare detailed design, budget.
  • Launch fundraising campaign to build a Hospice House for the Cowichan Valley


  • Begin construction of Hospice House at Cairnsmore Place


  • Open Cowichan Hospice House. 7 beds will be opened when the house opens, with 3 of the 10 rooms available for future growth.
a dedicated hospice can reduce end-of-life care costs

Hospitalizations account for the majority of end-of-life care costs in Canada and other countries.

It is estimated that, compared to usual acute hospital-based care, hospice palliative care may save the health care system approximately $7,000 to $8,000 per patient, and provides better care at the end of life.

Studies show hospice palliative care can significantly reduce:

  • Hospital admissions
  • Length of hospital stays
  • Intensive care unit/ emergency room/acute care utilization
  • Inappropriate diagnostics or interventions
why do we need a hospice when we are getting a new hospital?

Cowichan Hospice House is an important companion project to the development of a new hospital. Our aging and overcrowded hospital has not had palliative care beds for at least 15 years. We need to open our hospice as soon as possible in order to relieve strain and financial pressure on the Cowichan District Hospital.

Palliative care needs are not the same as acute care needs and can be met in a more appropriate and cost effective way in a hospice. Cowichan Hospice House will allow palliative patients from all over the hospital to move out of the hallways and into a facility providing more appropriate care.

The Cowichan Hospice House Task Force

In June 2015, Our Cowichan Community Health Network recommended the formation of a community based task force to work in collaboration with Island Health to develop a hospice facility.

Led by Cowichan Hospice , the Cowichan Hospice House Task Force was formed in September 2015. Our mandate is to establish a dedicated hospice facility to serve the Cowichan region by offering those at the end of life excellent pain and symptom management in a setting that helps people focus on what is most important to them.

Task Force Members include representatives from the Cowichan Valley Regional District, the Cowichan Valley Division of Family Practice, Our Cowichan Community Health Network, Cowichan Tribes, health-care auxiliaries, service clubs, and community members from across the region.

Our vision
Excellent hospice palliative care for everyone, every time, everywhere in the Cowichan Valley.
Our mission

To build our community a centralized hospice palliative care facility to provide care that will:

  • Enhance quality of life.
  • Provide relief from pain and other distressing symptoms.
  • Affirm dying as part of the normal process of living.
  • Integrate the physical, psychosocial and spiritual aspects of a person’s care.
  • Support families and their communities during the person’s illness and in bereavement.
  • Help people live as actively as possible until death.
Our guiding principles
  1. Autonomy – Care is guided by quality of life as defined by each person.
  2. Dignity – Relationships with clients and families are based on dignity and integrity.
  3. Person-centred care – In all our work we respect client values, beliefs and practices.
  4. High quality – All activities adhere to standards of practice and professional conduct.
  5. Team-based approach – Hospice staff and volunteers work as part of a circle of care that can include family members, medical professionals, home care workers, volunteers, pharmacists, social workers and others as required.
  6. Safety and effectiveness – Care is safe, confidential, and without discrimination or prejudice.
  7. Accessibility – All clients have equal access to care where and when they need it.
  8. Adequate resources – Resources are sufficient to support the activities of the program.
  9. Evidence-informed and knowledge-based care – Ongoing education is integral to providing quality care
  10. Community collaboration – Community stakeholders will be consulted and involved in a collaborative manner in issues relating to the ongoing use of the hospice palliative care facility, as well as to address issues, develop programs and services and advocate for excellence in end of life and bereavement care.

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