McNally House Staff and Volunteers Key to Bringing Compassion to our Community
McNally House Hospice strives to bring unconditional compassion to the Niagara West community. This promise would not be possible without the dedication and caring of the truly unique individuals who are its staff and volunteers.
Alyson Benoit, a Registered Nurse for the past 6 years at McNally House, explains that when residents and their families come to McNally, it’s hard for them to come through the doors for the first time. “It’s rewarding for us to alleviate the stress and remove the complexity of care from their shoulders. By doing our part, we allow friends and families to be just family and friends again for their loved ones – we give them the comfort and support they need.” McNally is recognized as providing the gold standard in palliative care in Canada. A big part of this, Alyson explains, can be attributed to the interdisciplinary palliative team that plays equal parts in every residents care. “We provide holistic, resident-centered care where the resident and their families are empowered and have a voice.”
Before joining McNally House, the Wellandport resident was a critical care nurse for 25 years. When asked why she made the move into palliative care, Alyson simply explains that she believes passionately that every person has the right to die well. “McNally is not a depressing place, in fact it’s the exact opposite – it’s a place of celebration, gratitude and courage. Working here I am inspired every day by the residents and their families as they navigate life’s most difficult journey and their amazing capacity to find strength and peace. It’s a privilege to help so many people when they are going through such a difficult time – there is no other job in nursing like this,” she states.
Although ‘hospice’ is equated with end of life and sounds scary to many, the McNally House staff and volunteers believe that death does not define the individual. “Every person who comes to McNally House has a life story that should be celebrated, and that’s exactly what we do here,” explains Janice Bovine a volunteer with a 2-year tenure at McNally. Whether it’s a holiday, birthday or anniversary – every occasion at McNally House is special. “We are here to celebrate life,” says Janice, who was also the 2014 recipient of the June Callwood Circle of Outstanding Volunteers award for her work at McNally.
The Vineland resident and mother of 2 busy teenage boys was initially attracted to McNally by her love of meeting and learning about new people. After just a few volunteer shifts she quickly realized that in only 4 hours a week, you can make a huge impact on someone’s life and the well-being of their friends and family. “You don’t need to be a health care expert to volunteer here” says Janice, “every volunteer can make a difference – whether it’s baking in the kitchen or gardening – whatever your talent is, every volunteer counts.” Each year volunteers provide over 8,600 hours of care to McNally House residents and their families.
And the volunteers themselves receive tremendous support – from the 30 hours of training to better understand the nuances of palliative care, to the team environment created by the nursing staff, personal support workers and the other volunteers. “I have been blessed with amazing shift partners that support anything I am doing at McNally and I support anything that they want to do to help any of our patients and families, “explains Janice. “We work together to adapt to the residents and family needs to provide the best possible care and support.”
In speaking with both Alyson and Janice, it becomes clear why those who have experienced McNally House recall fond memories of being embraced by care, support and compassion. But the staff and volunteers can’t do it alone; McNally House needs your support.