Warm quilts, activity books, hand lotion and toothpaste – sometimes it’s the simple things in life that mean the most when you are going through a difficult time. Knowing this is what led palliative care volunteers and staff to introduce the comfort cart. The cart is filled with the little things that patients and families may be lacking while on the Palliative Care Unit in Regina’s Pasqua Hospital.
”Patients on our unit are very ill and their family and friends often don't want to leave their side. The comfort cart provides people with a number of items, free of charge, to make their stay a little more comfortable,” said Marlene Jackson, Palliative Care’s volunteer and bereavement co-ordinator.
Volunteer Roseann Schafer shows some of the handmade items she makes for the comfort cart.
Many parties worked together to get the comfort cart rolling. Volunteer Lyle Petryna organized the program, Alford’s Flooring and Furniture donated the cart and maintenance staff provided modifications to make the cart just right. St. Cecilia's and Holy Trinity parishes, both located in Regina, partnered with the Regina-area Palliative Care Program to gather and donate supplies, such as socks, toothbrushes and toothpaste, soft facial tissues, crossword puzzle books and colouring books and crayons, and deliver them to the unit. Each week volunteers deliver comfort cart items to patients and families and help keep the cart stocked.
Volunteer Roseann Schafer has taken a special interest in ensuring there are personal items on the cart.
She creates one-of-a-kind quilts and a special memento she calls the Last Tear Handkerchief.
“I put a lot of love into each quilt and that love is returned to me every time a quilt is used," she said. Schafer contributes all quilts she makes to the cart; once a patient chooses a quilt, it’s theirs to keep.
The small white kerchiefs are adorned with a simple white bow, intended to symbolically catch the last tear people shed as they pass away. She made the kerchiefs to provide families with a tangible reminder of their loved one.
The comfort cart program relies on volunteers to provide the service. To volunteer or donate items, please contact Jackson at 306-766-2384 or marlene.jackson@Saskhealthauthority.ca.