For close to 40 years, Hope & Cope has offered innovative, personalized services that meet the ever-evolving needs of cancer patients and their caregivers.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March, we made the agonizing decision to temporarily suspend in-person services. Our immediate priority was to reassure our patients that we would not abandon them. Within days of the lockdown, we began offering some of our programs online through Zoom. Over the ensuing weeks and months, we expanded our on-line programming to include wellness activities, support groups, coping workshops and informative webinars on a variety of cancer-related topics. Currently, 100% of our peer support programs and 90% of our wellness activities and educational programs are available on-line. Across the board, attendance on-line has increased significantly when compared to on-site attendance last year.
Recognizing that not all patients have access to the Internet, we created an outreach team that provides vital support and follow-up over the phone. Comprised of 22 volunteers, this team has made close to 1000 calls. We adapted our training program to help volunteers enhance their active listening skills, recognize and respond appropriately to signs of distress, and flag cases that require further intervention by our clinical staff.
Simultaneously, we continue to engage with our partners at the Jewish General Hospital’s Segal Cancer Centre and within the broader cancer community to better understand how we can all work together for the greater good. For example, we are involved in the creation of a virtual video tour of the oncology facilities to familiarize new patients with what to expect as they undergo chemotherapy treatment.
Next year will mark the 40th Anniversary of Hope & Cope and the retirement of our inspirational Founder, Sheila Kussner. Assuming it will be safe to gather publicly once again, we hope to celebrate with the community at our Butterfly Soiree on August 24, 2021.
The COVID-19 threat and restrictive public health measures have had devastating effects on our patients’ physical, financial and mental health, including a dramatic increase in social isolation and anxiety. While we continue to provide vital support virtually and over the phone, it is clear that many of our patients long for in-person interactions with each other, with our volunteers and with our staff. They miss the warm, welcoming environment of our Wellness Centre and our comforting presence in the clinics and at the bedside. They cannot wait for us to open our doors once again, and we, in turn, are eager to welcome everyone back safely.
As we invest in our digital capacity to connect with those affected by cancer wherever they happen to live, we reaffirm our promise to provide the high touch, personalized approach to cancer support that has always been the hallmark of Hope & Cope.
Suzanne O’Brien, Chair
Eric Amar, Executive Director
April – September
Total attendance Wellness programs:
2522 in 2020 vs 1797 in 2019, representing a 40% increase, despite 27% fewer classes held
Total attendance peer support programs:
656 in 2020 vs 418 in 2019, representing a 57% increase
Total attendance lectures and workshops:
350 in 2020 vs, 202 in 2019, representing a 73% increase