SE Health Care’s Nancy Lefebre cuts the ribbon for the new three-bed Journey Home Hospice in Windsor, Ont. Photo from Twitter

Saint Elizabeth improvises in launching homeless hospice

  • November 26, 2022

Like a healthcare jazz band, the Saint Elizabeth Foundation, the charitable arm of SE Health Care, has improvised its way around provincial funding priorities to launch a new hospice for the homeless in Windsor, Ont.

The new three-bed Journey Home Hospice in downtown Windsor is being funded by charitable donations, a bit of money from the province’s housing program for the chronically homeless, an offer of free space from Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario (ALSO) and backing from the City of Windsor.

“We have decided to cover the upfront costs and ongoing operational costs as part of our charitable efforts and rely on fundraising from the community to help cover these expenses,” Nancy Lefebre, SE Health Care senior vice president and Chief Operating Officer for the Business of Caring, told The Catholic Register.

The only provincial money going into the hospice so far doesn’t come from the Ministry of Health, even if hospice palliative care is a matter of nurses, doctors and personal support workers treating serious health conditions. Instead, the provincial money comes from the Social Services Relief Fund, under the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

“At this time, Journey Home Hospice Windsor has not applied or been approved for hospice bed funding from the Ministry of Health,” said Lefebre in an email.

Over the coming months, as the hospice accepts and cares for new guests, Saint Elizabeth nurses and administrators will collect data and build a case for funding that Lefebre hopes to present to the Ministry of Health. 

The Saint Elizabeth Foundation has applied for accreditation for the new hospice.

Trying to get provincial funding to build a hospice — the province typically provides about 10 per cent of the up-front capital costs for a new hospice — would just take too long, said Lefebre.

“If we needed to purchase land and build a hospice space, the Windsor site would have been a very lengthy process,” she said.

Lefebre is pushing for new models, new ways of getting hospice beds into communities. These include hospices embedded in retirement homes or even condo buildings “where the capital costs of infrastructure could be shared.”

This isn’t new for Saint Elizabeth. The home-care specialists at SE Health launched the first Journey Home Hospice in Toronto with just four beds in a 10-floor, city-owned community housing building. 

Having proven its worth in 2018 and 2019, Journey Home Toronto expanded to 10 beds occupying two floors of the Garden District building in 2020.

The Windsor venture has the enthusiastic support of people in Windsor.

“The City of Windsor is very proud to partner with the Saint Elizabeth Foundation and Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario to offer this much-needed new service for people experiencing homelessness,” said the city’s Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Andrew Daher, in a release.

Lefebre isn’t necessarily in favour of improvising health care for the dying.

“Increased government funding for capital and operational costs for hospices could also offer fast-track opportunities for new spaces,” she said.

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