Jean Cameron was a social worker and a bereavement counselor in palliative care at the Royal Victoria Hospital alongside Dr. Balfour Mount. A dedicated and compassionate listener, Jean inspired and supported many with wisdom and a gentle loving strength. Her work in palliative care along with her book “Time to Live, Time to Die” touched many lives. With her social work background, Jean was particularly sensitive to the small things that could bring personal comfort and tender moments to those who were nearing the end of their life. Over the years, she personally befriended many who were in the palliative stage of their disease. Her mission was to identify what was important for a given patient, but not available through the hospital, health or social services and to try to make that possible, for example: paying for taxis for an elderly woman so she could visit her dying husband during a bus strike. When Jean heard that she was to be the beneficiary of a bequest that would provide funds that she could use for these special comforts, she established the Jean Cameron Palliative Care Foundation, to formalize and continue the work she had started. Upon Jean’s death in 2012, the dedicated Board of Directors of the Foundation continued to steward her philosophy and goals and provide funds to improve the quality of care for patients and their families.
Since 2003, the Jean Cameron Palliative Care Foundation has been a loyal supporter of the West Island Palliative Care Residence. In particular, it has been a stalwart contributor to our three o’clock tea trolley, one of the highlights of the day for patients and families. In 2016, the Foundation made an exemplary donation to create The Jean Cameron Palliative Care Fund at the Residence to relieve suffering, provide comfort and unite families. The Fund will make sure that our patients’ final home is as comfortable as possible. It will continue to support our daily tea trolley which offers sweets and a warm drink as well as our Friday afternoon wine and cheese cart for that extra special weekend feel. It will ensure that the Residence has all the necessary personal essentials like toothbrushes, toothpaste, blow dryers, or slippers, on hand “just in case” they are needed for overnight stays. The Fund will also allow us to offer assistance when finances can be tight to pay for adapted transport for a patient’s final visit home or meal tickets for family members who don’t want to leave their loved one’s side while they are with us. Our goal is to carry on the Fund for years to come and we invite others who wish to support these types of caring comforts to contribute to the Jean Cameron Palliative Care Fund thereby perpetuating Jean’s legacy.
To further commemorate her dedication to patients and their families, the Residence has declared June 6th to be Jean Cameron Day. Tea and cake will be offered to all patients, families, volunteers and staff along with the opportunity to learn more about Jean and her philosophy. During the celebration, the Jean Cameron Award will be presented to a volunteer who embodies Jean’s spirit, whether it be through bereavement counseling or through their efforts to do whatever it takes to ensure our patients’ comfort and tender moments with their loved ones.
The Residence is privileged and very proud to honour Jean Cameron as an integral part of one of Canada’s leading palliative care organizations.