Brief History of Compassionate Ottawa
In November 2016, almost four dozen representatives of a wide cross section of community and palliative care provider organizations met to explore the idea of Ottawa becoming a compassionate community for palliative care—a grass roots community based social model of care for those facing life threatening illnesses.
There was a broad consensus that there would be much to gain for the city to work towards the idea. Following that initial meeting, a small volunteer group came together under the stewardship of two co-chairs. The thought was not to create another organization but to work under the umbrella of a host organisation. The OutCare Foundation, a charitable organization which raises funds for palliative care, agreed to be that host.
The initiative was given the name of Compassionate Ottawa with a tag line of Reimagining Palliative Care.
Over the course of the following months, the volunteer group met with a variety of health, social service and community organizations to explore the initiative further. By March 2017, the feedback was very clear—there was a real need for what was being proposed and all organizations expressed a desire to be part of the venture. At the same time research was undertaken on compassionate community initiatives elsewhere. While the movement is at an early stage of development in Canada, other countries, such as the United Kingdom, had well developed programs through the residential hospice movement. By April 2017, a vision and mission statement had been drafted by the volunteer group. This material was taken to a second broad community meeting in May for vetting and met with broad support. The Ottawa Community Foundation provided a grant to assist with some start-up expenses, and an anonymous donor came forward with the offer of additional funds to allow the hiring of a part time staff member to support the work of the volunteers.
Our Vision for Ottawa
A compassionate Ottawa supports and empowers individuals, their families and their communities throughout life for dying and grieving well.
Attributes of our Vision for Ottawa are:
By ‘Ottawa’ we mean the rich diversity of our city as well as its rural and urban settings
By ‘supports’ we mean access to services when needed which are equitable and of high quality
By ‘empower’ we mean the ability of everyone to take action to help their family, friends and neighbours and make a difference in their communities
By ‘throughout life’ we mean that we are open to discussing death and dying as a normal part of life and that we prepare properly for it
The Mission of Compassionate Ottawa
Compassionate Ottawa is a volunteer-facilitated, community-led initiative which will improve the quality of life for the frail elderly and those who face life threatening illnesses by raising awareness about the importance of the topic, engaging and empowering individuals and communities to act and facilitating education and training.
Contribute to changing the narrative around dying, death and bereavement
Acknowledge the value and importance of citizens’ supporting their families, friends, neighbours and workmates who are experiencing dying and grief
Engage and Empower
Engage Ottawa’s many and diverse communities and provide support, where requested, as they develop their own approaches to becoming compassionate communities
Develop a shared understanding in the broad community of the need to work together to help Ottawa become a compassionate community
Education and Training
Affirm the power of stories for a better understanding of the individual, family and community experience of dying, death and bereavement
Facilitate the development of a flexible curriculum to support community , volunteers, families and individuals through the dying and bereavement process
Compassionate Ottawa will not itself deliver any professional services, but will link community resources with those in need or those who wish to build their capacity to better serve their constituents.
We recognize that organizations and individuals have been active in this field for many years. Our aim is not to duplicate these resources but to complement and to build upon them to create more capacity in the community.
Compassionate Ottawa is a volunteer organization with a lean structure: two co-chairs, a small three person steering committee and a volunteer group.
The steering committee looks after fiduciary matters such as budgeting and financial administration, organization of meetings, working with part time staff and management of the web site.
The volunteer group, called the Champions Circle, consists of individuals who have agreed to undertake specific tasks based on the vision, mission and priorities of the organization. They meet two to three times a year to determine program and organizational priorities and to engage in learning forums to build our knowledge base on community capacity building and palliative care.
Compassionate Ottawa will not become a legal entity. The OutCare Foundation, a charitable foundation which raises funds for palliative care, has agreed to host us by providing office and financial administration services as well as a funding channel when necessary.
Financial support from the Ottawa Community Foundation and an anonymous donor has allowed us to hire part time staff to support the work of the volunteers.