Driven by Compassion

Palliative Response Team on the move

The Victoria Hospice Palliative Response Team (PRT) covers a lot of ground. They travel more than 35,000 km every year, providing 24-hour crisis intervention for patients and families right at home, from Victoria to the Saanich Peninsula and the Highlands and Western Communities.

The Auchinlecks’ 2021 PRT car donation

That’s thanks to long-time Victoria Hospice donors Dick and Linda Auchinleck. Their recent gift of a new car for the Palliative Response Team is the couple’s second donation of wheels to Victoria Hospice in seven years.

“When we heard the first vehicle needed replacing, we were so pleased to do it again. It’s the first time in my life I was happy to hear a car got worn out,” says Dick, who collects and restores vintage cars. “It shows the vehicle is absolutely necessary to the people who use it to deliver such important services.”

The Palliative Response Team provides crisis treatment for physical and emotional symptoms that might otherwise require stressful emergency room visits. Staffed by nurses, counsellors and palliative care physicians, the team is also available to help support a death at home.

The Auchinlecks’ 2014 PRT car donation

“Support for the PRT is more important than ever in this pandemic year,” Victoria Hospice Medical Director Dr. Amy Tan says. “The Palliative Response Team has really risen to the occasion to support not only more complex symptoms but also more complex psychosocial needs and the sense of isolation that many of our patients have right now at a very poignant time in their life,” she says. “Many patients are choosing to stay at home longer in their disease process or until their death because of the necessary pandemic-related visitor restrictions in hospital and at Hospice.”

Providing compassionate care for loved ones at home strikes a chord for the Auchinlecks.

“We both have the experience of our elderly parents needing care in a facility and needing care at home,” says Linda. “The PRT support helps people stay in their own homes – that’s an amazing service.”

The new vehicle makes a big impact in the team’s ability to reach patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, says PRT Counsellor Michele Butot.

“The PRT car means the world to us,” she says. “Having a reliable car helps us travel around our extensive service area, providing symptom relief and emotional support, andallowing Hospice patients to remain safely and with comfort in their own homes.”

Photo featuring the first PRT call in 1989

The new car helps the team visit an average of four patients every 12 hours, with at least two hours spent behind the wheel every shift. “Having a vehicle for all-weather driving in the farthest reaches of the service area is so reassuring for the team,” says Community Response Coordinator Sue Stone. “Not everyone drives a car suitable for the remote side roads, so having a safe reliable vehicle is so appreciated.”

“To have a dedicated car for PRT is huge,” she says. “If the team had to use their own personal vehicles, they could only carry a fraction of the supplies. The PRT car allows the team to have access to a wide range of supplies that can be quickly accessed to make a huge difference to the clients and families they support.”

Making that difference is what fuels Dick and Linda’s generosity.

“For the two of us, hospice really clicks. The people we meet at hospice care so much about people who need end-of-life care,” Dick says. “To meet the challenge of getting to know people who are going to pass away at some point in time, you’ve got to be very strong in character and mind to go and deal with that on a continuing basis.”

“We both have so much time for the people at hospice. They’re really quite remarkable.”

This story first appeared in our Summer Edition of our quarterly newsletter ‘Transitions.’ Click Here for more details on how to subscribe and receive more stories like this.