Fanshawe faculty member has “Heart”

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Murray's passion and dedication to the hospice stems from a deep admiration for emotional resiliency and the support the staff are able to offer patients and their loved ones.

Alison Murray, Registered Massage Therapist and part-time faculty member in Fanshawe’s massage therapy advanced diploma program, has been awarded the Heart of Hospice Award from St. Joseph’s Hospice of London.

For seven years, Murray has overseen students aspiring to be registered massage therapists practicing the skills they develop at Fanshawe as they volunteer their service.

“Students gain assessment, treatment and home care experience, while also learning to navigate sensitive topics in a professional and delicate manner,” said Murray. “They are also developing an understanding of the impact they are able to have, in their future career, on clients who are undergoing difficult life events… when I meet the patients and their loved ones, I am so honoured to be a small part of their journey. To support them in the way that myself and the students are capable of.”

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Coordinator of Volunteers at St. Joseph’s Hospice, Carla McDonald, said the Heart of Hospice Award is new this year.

“We wanted to be able to extend to a group of eight volunteers who basically across all of our volunteer roles demonstrate exceptional assistance, quality of care, commitment to excellence in their role, and a kind spirit, and by all means I know that Alison for sure demonstrates all of those qualities…we truly are blessed. She’s just a really warm and genuine person and I know that she takes her role seriously and cares deeply about the clients that are coming in.”

Murray’s passion and dedication to the hospice stems from a deep admiration for emotional resiliency and the support the staff are able to offer patients and their loved ones.

“I will never forget, one day, a few years ago, when I arrived to the hospice for an outreach,” said Murray. “The staff were completing a ceremony, in recognition of a patient that had passed… perhaps 20 minutes later, were welcoming a new family with bright welcoming smiles, because they knew that is what that family needed in that time.”

The hospice, meanwhile, has been around for 35 years. “A lot of people don’t know that we’ve evolved over the years,” said McDonald. The organization functions with the help of an estimated 300 volunteers. These volunteers provide many palliative services in-home and on location. The services offered include a broad range of aid to improve the lives of people in palliative care. A few lesser-known services offered at the hospice include energy therapies, manicures, pedicures, and haircuts.

As a volunteer driven program, McDonald said there are always contributions of time that can be made to help the hospice provide its invaluable services. Some of these have been hard to provide during the pandemic with caution on everyone’s minds. A licensed hairdresser, for example, is a volunteer position in need of filling.

Murray said she is honoured by the award “considering how lovely and dedicated all of the St. Joseph’s volunteers are. They are a special group of people.”

If you would like to volunteer at St. Joseph’s Hospice of London, or you would like more information about their services, please visit sjhospicelondon.com.