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Hospice News September 2022

Many Thanks to Dawn Elliot for Years of Compassion

In September, our Executive Director, Dawn Elliott, made a decision to retire from her position earlier than anticipated. Dawn has provided many years of service to the Foothills Country Hospice and is regarded as a compassionate and well respected leader within the hospice, Alberta Health Services and the community. Dawn’s love for the hospice as a whole has defined her as a leader with the heart and soul for this difficult work. Dawn has had to steer the ship through the rockiest of waters over the pandemic and has supported our team to continue to provide excellent care to our residents and families. The many accolades from families and significant donations in memoriam are a tribute to her leadership.
Although we have known that her retirement was coming, saying farewell is not easy. We would like to thank Dawn for her dedication, her support and her leadership, she will be missed greatly. The recognition of her many accomplishments through her years at the hospice will be recognized at a later date. The FCHS Board of Directors is in the process of recruiting a new Executive Director, a list of candidates has been obtained and the search is continuing. In the meantime, the Clinical Manager, Karen Tiedje, will serve as the Interim E.D.

Dr. Greg Powell                         Karen Tiedje
Chair                                       Interim Executive Director

Nargis Zaheer Family

Five years after her mother-in-law passed away, Kerrie Zaheer still thinks of Foothill Country Hospice with gratitude.

“Her passing was traumatic for the immediate family, especially my father-in-law,” she says, “but the staff and volunteers at Foothills Country Hospice helped him, and all of us, through it, step by step.”

The following excerpt is taken from a letter to the Hospice dated April, 2022:

“Your organization allowed my mother-in-law to die with dignity. You welcomed our whole, giant, crazy f
amily [some coming from as far away as Pakistan] to roam about, sleeping on couches, crying in corners, having big meals together, taking up the whole common area with puzzles that helped us connect and distract away from our impending loss.

You allowed us to be comfortable, provided us with anticipatory guidance, shared meals with us, connected with us on so many different levels when it would have been so much easier to keep your distance and just do your clinical work.

I believe your gentle guidance saved our family a lot of regret and trauma around the time of her death. That means more to us than you will ever know and has allowed us to move forward and live to honour her memory and her spirit, rather than shutting her away because it’s too painful.

I often think about the day she died, and how different it could have been if she had not been at Foothills Country Hospice and had, instead, died in hospital. It’s something that almost makes me feel sick to think about, and I wish that everyone had access to the kind of care you provided at end of life.

Our family is forever indebted to you for the love and dignity with which you cared for her, and how held we felt throughout the whole process. Our forever gratitude…”

Introducing Matthew Vyse

Secretary, Foothills Country Hospice Board

Having spent two years on the Board of Foothills Country Hospice, Matthew has recently been appointed Secretary. “I am excited to be part of the upcoming growth, not only of the facility, but also of the outreach programs, which are so vital to our community,” he explains.

As a retired physiotherapist, and having two palliative nurses in the family, Matthew knows a bit about the passion and commitment it takes to maintain the intimacy that is so important to quality end-of-life care. “The people involved in this organization are incredible,” he says. “On the board, staff, other volunteers … everyone is working toward one goal.”

As a bit of a car buff, Matthew became involved with the Hospice several years ago through the Rally for Hospice.

“Foothills Country Hospice has a great reputation,” he goes on to say. “When the opportunity presented itself, I thought it was a good fit. I was ready to commit some time back to my community. We are so fortunate to have the Hospice here, I wanted to help.”
Tickets are 90% sold - order yours now from Gala Coordinator Debi Hartle at

Many thanks to our Gala sponsors:

Platinum Sponsors

Gold Sponsors

Cindy Kruschel

Silver Sponsors

Wine Sponsor

Entertainment and catering provided by:

Live Auction Items Include:

Tour of the John Scott Ranch and lunch for 4 at the
Longview Twin Cities Hotel
Framed Signed Makar Jersey
Lanny Mcdonald and Bearcat Painting
by Calgary artist Kim Parent

Can't make it to the Gala?

You can still support by making a donation online or sending a cheque to:
Foothills Country Hospice
Box 274
322001 32 St East
Okotoks AB T1S 1A5
All proceeds fund our palliative programs and support services – where attention is paid to physical needs, expert pain and symptom management, emotional and spiritual support and bereavement care.
Donate Now

Cliff Ayrey

A Man and His Dog

C.J. hadn't yet made it to his new home, when the young puppy stopped by the Foothills Country Hospice with his new owner Cliff Ayrey. Before they even went inside, C.J. was in the arms of a resident, providing a welcome distraction from the stress and emotions of that resident's last few days.

“It was like he knew right from the start that he would have to be quieter than his normal rambunctious self,” says Cliff, long-time volunteer, most recently in the form of bringing his puppy C.J. to the Hospice. Every Saturday afternoon Cliff makes the rounds with C.J. and the nurses starting their shift who visit each resident to say hello and let them know who's on staff that evening.

“The warmth and unconditional attention that C.J. pours into his reactions to being cuddled and petted is therapeutic for both residents and families,” says Cliff.

Cliff has volunteered at the Hospice for seven years, first at the reception desk, but soon after, following palliative care training, becoming more involved in patient support.

Did You Know?

"Only 16% to 30% of Canadians who die currently have access to or receive hospice palliative and end-of-life care services – depending on where they live in Canada. Even fewer receive grief and bereavement services."
- Canadian Hospice Palliative
Care Association
Thank you to all who voted for Foothills Country Hospice in the Western Wheel's 2022 Readers' Choice Awards. 



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