Author Archives: ellenw

  1. Children’s Play and Recreation Program Impact: Emily’s House and Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care

    Comments Off on Children’s Play and Recreation Program Impact: Emily’s House and Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care


    This past year saw a significant change in the way recreational and therapeutic programming was delivered at Emily’s House. With help from a dedicated and flexible team of volunteers, we were able to adapt and respond quickly to the changing public health situation and deliver ongoing, meaningful programing to our children and families. While on-site, one-on-one recreational and therapeutic play sessions continued, the number of regularly scheduled virtual programming events offered increased significantly, up to 40 per month. Group sessions included storytelling, music, games, and activities such as virtual visits to parks, museums, and the Toronto aquarium; plus, weekly sing-alongs and virtual visits from therapy dogs.

    For families who could not visit Emily’s House for events, the special events went to the families! The year’s Halloween and winter holiday parties were also held virtually, with songs, games, and craft packages that were delivered to the families by volunteers in advance.  In addition to regularly scheduled programing and seasonal events, special virtual sessions were held, such as a four-week Zumba class for kids, a magic show, and a virtual family campfire. Legacy and memory making activities continued to be offered to families throughout the year, providing them with treasured keepsakes, such as hand castings and fingerprint charms.

    Also from home, children and families participated in a tile mosaic art mural.  Eighteen families Zoomed and mosaiced together for this therapeutic community project.  Guided by an artist, each family created their own, unique mosaic tile contribution. Sessions proved expressive, social, and engaging, with beautiful results. One family inscribed the back of their tile: “Thanks Emily’s House for all your helping hands that pour love on so many friends.”

    Special thanks to the lead funder of Emily’s House Daily Play and Art Therapies Program, The Lillian Meighen and Don Wright Foundation, which makes it possible to offer daily recreation and therapeutic fun. 

    Client Impact – Recreation:  Recreational play and fun that adds joy and quality to life continues:  in-person at Emily’s House, at home, by group video events, and in every conceivable combination of locations as best supports each child and family.  Video / Zoom events embraced during our COVID-19 pivot will be continuing as peer-group and peer-family events, to support children who are restricted in their travel or by geography, and to extend new peer family / group programming (i.e., community tile mosaic art, virtual family campfire).  One family’s review of the Emily’s House Virtual Campfire: “What a great night and program! We had so much fun at camp night!  It was easy to access. The “guides” were fabulous. Loved their energy and excitement towards the kids. They also really engaged all those taking part. A few of the kids were non-verbal, but I really felt like they were fully included. It was a great mix of songs, games, and interaction.”

    Client Impact – Music Therapy:  For one family with three children, drumming parade parties ensued in the backyard of their home, with the neighbors peeking over the fence. Each week the children would ask our Music Therapist with excitement, “What new instruments do you have today?!” They were excited to share every new sensory experience:  to express and create new soundscapes, as they blasted out their feelings and processed their world, while being supported by the therapy of music. As we integrate COVID program key learnings and look forward to increased flexibility and inclusivity in 2022, our team is anticipating more virtual groups for children and families who are not able to travel to participate in therapeutic and recreational hospice programming. At the same time, socially-distanced group music therapy and sing-alongs are again taking place inside Emily’s House, filling the building and children with song.

  2. E-News September October 2021

    Comments Off on E-News September October 2021

    Emily’s House / Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care
    E-Newsletter: September October 2021


    Let there be music! And in-person, sing-along gathering good times! 



    As COVID restrictions are becoming more flexible, one bright light is that in-person, sing-along music circles are being reintroduced at Emily’s House.


    An Update Excerpt from our Medical Director



    “The past year has been a year like no other in recent memory, and naturally the pandemic has had a significant impact on Emily’s House as well as the patients and families we serve. While the challenges faced must be acknowledged, it is the resilience and determination that we have shown that is most deserving of attention. Even as things began to slowly open up, most of our families insisted on keeping their medically-fragile children home out of an abundance of caution, but in doing so, their stress and isolation reached new heights. We knew we could help; but we also understood that families felt safest together at home. So, we took Emily’s House to them. We’ve provided virtual support and made physically-distanced visits to countless families over the past year to help them get through these darkest times. We have been reminded this year that Emily’s House is more than a special place.”– from Dr. Adam Rapoport, Medical Director, Emily’s House and Paediatric Advanced Care Team, SickKids Hospital


    A Bowling Baby at Emily’s House



    The other day when I popped in at Emily’s House, a baby was bowling near the nursing station, with a little “hand-over-hand” help.  A small, cheering crowd included two other medically-fragile children, who were also having a blast.  It was a moment that captured what is special about the Emily’s House Recreation Program. Three children, with wildly varied ages, cognitive ranges, and medical complexities, were entirely immersed in a joyful, shared recreation experience; and supported by a play specialist, nurses, and an intern volunteer adding to the energy. With tremendous thanks to the Lillian Meighen and Don Wright Foundation, our lead funder for recreation, this baby knocked down eight of ten plastic bowling pins.  I’m mixing metaphors here, but … it was a slam-dunk, home run, hat trick of magic, and simply amazing.” – from Jennifer Kroezen, Director of Development 


    Testimonial from a mom – on
    “Emily’s House Baby Summer Camp”


    “We want to say a BIG thank you to all of the nurses, PSWs, and volunteers who have taken such good care of [our daughter], and who make her stays at baby camp super fun!  We really appreciate you being able to get her in there when you have, both for her sake and ours.”


    Grief and Bereavement: expanding to serve a wider community



    To access Grief and Bereavement supports you do not require a prior client connection to our hospice. Expanded services are now available to the wider community, and new Support Groups will be offered this fall.  The next adult grief support group will begin Tuesday, October 19th via Zoom. Feedback on past programming includes: “I couldn’t get through this without your help.” “You understand when no one else does.” Contact: 416-363-9196, ext. 206 /





    • Volunteers, Ahoy!  The times are a changing, and so are the ways we appreciate and engage hospice volunteers. A recent “Volunteer Walk ’n talk” included a sea-faring voyage on the Harbourfront boat café.
    • Testimonial from a volunteer regarding visits with her client: "I perform my duties from the bottom of my heart, and I do everything the way I would do it for myself. I am so happy when I see her happy…. We bonded very fast and I'm grateful for that."
    • Learn more about volunteering:


    The Legacy of Toronto Artist Philip Aziz Continues:  Donor Spotlight



    We extend special thanks to Jean Munro, a sister of Philip Aziz, who died earlier this year.  After years of donation support to hospice programs, Munro made a generous donation via her final estate to help continue the good work of hospice care, in honour of her brother’s legacy.  The Aziz family legacy continues to touch so many lives lived fully to the end.  For the Philip Aziz backstory, visit:


    Virtual Hike for Hospice 2021



    Hike is done for another year!  We announced $37,284.63 as the total raised for Toronto Hospice Partners: Emily’s House/Philip Aziz Centre and Hospice Toronto.  For EH/PAC, that means $21, 288 is available for hospice programming. Individuals, families and teams participated in this year’s Hike for Hospice.  Some hiked remotely, and others virtually. All were invited to follow clues to Mystery Virtual Photo Walk destinations, and to win exciting prizes. Thank you to participants, donors, volunteers, lead sponsor Mount Pleasant Group, the hike committee, and Brigitte – our 2021 puppet spokesperson for a series of fun Hike promo videos. Although it was a virtual success, we hope to see your faces at a future in-person event! 


    Donate Online  



    Now, more than ever, as parents are physically isolated at home, and often providing 24/7 care for a medically-fragile child, all hospice supports designed to relieve the strain and bring children joy are desperately needed. For palliative adults at home, phone check-ins, virtual groups, and home-delivery supports can be a lifeline. Your donation can be directed to life-giving hospice programs. To donate online, visit: Donation Page


    Keeping in Touch


      For more frequent updates, visit or follow us:


    How You Can Help


    Donate online today, and support compassionate hospice care in your community:  or


    Emily’s House / Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care, 558 Gerrard St E Toronto, ON  M4M 1X8. 
    To donate, visit: Thank you for having a heart for hospice!

    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 



  3. Virtual Toronto Hike for Hospice Partners – Join Team Emily’s House / PAC – July 17 – August 28, 2021

    Comments Off on Virtual Toronto Hike for Hospice Partners – Join Team Emily’s House / PAC – July 17 – August 28, 2021


    Toronto Hike for Hospice Partners – July 17 – August 28, 2021
    $10 to register.  Additional fundraising is encouraged. Have a heart for hospice!

    Everyone eventually will be touched by hospice care – in their community, family, and in their own home.  We invite you to help us offer compassionate care and support for families in our community.  Come hike with us! Create a team!

    Hike Highlights:

    ♦ Virtual Hike in your neighbourhoods

    ♦ Special Mystery Virtual Photo Walks on 3 Saturdays, July 24, August 7 and August 21, 2021

    As part of this Mystery Virtual Photo Walk schedule we will be releasing 5 clues each week of the location of that coming Saturday’s Mystery Location.  The clues will be published on our social media accounts each weekday (Mon-Fri).

    ♦ PRIZES!!!  If you can guess the Mystery Destinations, and for Fundraising Efforts.

    Click Here to enter your guess for the weeks Mystery Destination!  

    Emily’s House / Philip Aziz Centre and Hospice Toronto have again joined forces, as Toronto Hike for Hospice 2021 Partners, to host our 19th annual Toronto Hike for Hospice Partners Virtually – to raise awareness and funds in support of GTA hospice programs. 

    Annually, our partner hospices provide:

    ► Visiting volunteer and direct staff support to almost 2,000 individuals in the GTA in need of hospice care

    ► Caregiver relief, respite, support and resources, including 65,000 volunteer hours

    ► Counseling and care support to individuals and groups coping with illness, caregiving or bereavement

    100% of all funds raised through Hike for Hospice Partners will remain in your community, to raise public awareness and ensure that hospice palliative care is available for people with a life-threatening illness or in need of end-of-life supports, and their caregivers and loved ones at no cost to them.

    The number of people impacted by our programs is increasing yearly. With Toronto's rapidly aging population, and adults and children living longer with complex illness, the need for compassionate, hospice palliative care and support to improve people's quality of life, and support their caregivers and loved ones, is greater than ever before.

    Hike for Hospice Palliative Care is a Canadian national fundraising event held across that brings together organizations working collectively in hospice palliative care to raise funds and awareness in their community.

    ♦ Only 16% to 30% of Canadians who die currently have access to or receive hospice palliative and end-of-life care services depending on where they live in Canada. Even fewer receive grief and bereavement services.

    ♦ Each death in Canada affects the immediate wellbeing of an average of 5 other people, or more than 1.25 million Canadians each year. (Estimate provided by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association).

    ♦ Hospice palliative care programs allow patients to gain more control over their lives, manage pain and symptoms more effectively, and provides support to family caregivers.


    To Sponsor:                Please contact


    To Register:                                                                                                  


    To Donate to a Team or Hiker:                                 


    2021 Toronto Hike for Hospice Sponsors: 

     Community Partner Sponsor:


    Sponsored nationally by:




  4. Hospice Palliative Care Ontario (HPCO) Awards

    Comments Off on Hospice Palliative Care Ontario (HPCO) Awards

    Hospice Palliative Care Ontario (HPCO) Honours Emily’s House / Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care (PAC) with Three Awards in 2021

    Rauni Salminen, CEO, Emily’s House / Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care (PAC) Awarded the Dorothy Ley Award of Excellence in Hospice Palliative Care 2021 
    Nominated by colleagues and selected by a Hospice Palliative Care Ontario (HPCO) adjudication committee, this award recognizes a lifetime of achievements and influence in palliative care. Kudos to Rauni Salminen, for her vision, leadership, team mobilization, and perseverance: a faithful heart, capable of fierce advocacy and deep compassion. We could not imagine a more qualified candidate at this time, and celebrate a life poured out in service of the palliative among us, both for adults and for children. As Rauni has stated and truly believes: “This award also reflects brightly on the outstanding contributions and service of our dedicated staff, volunteers and board members at Emily’s House and Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care over the past quarter century!”  The late Dorothy Ley was one of Canada’s first champions for quality care at the end-of-life. She brought a unique individuality to the field of hospice and palliative care, and maintained a highly visible and vocal presence during her distinguished career until her death in 1994. Dr. Ley was a pioneer and she broke new ground in fields of medicine and health care in general. The Dorothy Ley Award of Excellence, established in 1996 by the Ontario Palliative Care Association, now Hospice Palliative Care Ontario, is a perennial reminder of her truly great legacy. The award is presented annually in recognition of an individual or team effort to advance and improve the quality of palliative and end-of-life care. 

    Elizabeth Kagabe wins the Frances Montgomery Award for Outstanding Personal Support Worker 2021
    At the HPCO conference, it was announced that Emily’s House’s Elizabeth Kagabe was selected for the Frances Montgomery Award for “outstanding Personal Support Worker, who demonstrates commitment, excellence and compassion in their scope of practice.” Our CEO, writes: “Elizabeth’s work ethic, compassion and wisdom continues to be a valuable gift to Emily’s House.  Thank you, Elizabeth, for your years of service and untiring love for those in your care and support for those on your team.” Elizabeth writes: “Thank you all for the congratulatory messages I have received on this special achievement. No words can express my gratitude for the love and support you have given me during the eight years plus I have worked at Emily's House. I always felt the love and compassion when I was a volunteer of Philip Aziz Centre but, when I joined EH, I met special people with big hearts who became my clinical mentors. A mixed of my community experience with their clinical knowledge made me who I am today.”

    Emily’s House / PAC – Awarded the Mount Pleasant Group Hospice Innovation Award 2021
    The Mount Pleasant Group Innovation Award recognizes innovative solutions, approaches, and program delivery of high-quality hospice care in the community.   This year’s award recognizes and honors Emily’s House innovative program pivot in response to COVID-19.  Our Emily’s House children’s hospice “stepped up” by committing to temporarily provide care for palliative adults.  Our team freed up eight hospital beds at Michael Garron Hospital for COVID-19 patients, while still reserving two beds at our hospice for children from Sick Kids Hospital for end-of-life care. At the same time, our Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care continued to safely provide modified virtual and limited in-person hospice supports for children and adults, including Music Therapy, Recreational activities, Respite, Social Work and Bereavement Care, while responding to emerging client care needs in crisis. (For more, please see: Covid-19 Response Client Impact and Testimonials on our websites). The HPCO Mount Pleasant Group Hospice Innovation Award is a geographically based award open to hospices physically located in either Durham Region, Peel Region, Toronto or York Region.

    Hospice Palliative Care Ontario sends congratulations, again, to all the 2021 award recipients.

    Here is a link to the recording of last week’s 2021 Virtual Award Presentation:

    #HPCO; #hospiceawards; #innovation


  5. E-News March – May 2021

    Comments Off on E-News March – May 2021

    Emily’s House / Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care
    E-Newsletter: March – May 2021


    Owen and the Tile Mosaic 

    From home in March, children and families participated in an Emily’s House tile mosaic community art project.  The series of 30-minute Zoom sessions enabled participants to mosaic together, including 15- year-old Owen who needs social interaction. His mom was delighted that Emily’s House reached out to them: “Owen loves art,” she said. “He really needs this. He’s really loving this!”  … “You make a difference, and you have a profound impact on the patients and families you provide care for.”  


    Virtual & Safe Hospice Programming

    Many of our hospice programs that were previously delivered face-to-face — after adding some creativity and technology — have expanded into practical remote supports. Onsite 24/7 clinical paediatric care has introduced safety protocols to protect patients and families.  Our children’s program calendar has something fun scheduled for every day of April; new care / grief groups for adults are launching via privacy protected video technology; and online training opportunities for our hospice volunteers are non-stop.

    PAC Community Virtual Sessions

    From a community client regarding invitations to Virtual Sessions:  "Thank you so much for thinking of the caregivers. These sessions all sound so great. Even just opening the envelope I received in the mail, and reading all the ways you thought to support us, quite literally brought tears to my eyes. To say this has been a challenging or stressful time is most certainly an understatement."

    Garden Memorial

    Plans are underway for the next Emily’s House Virtual Garden Memorial.  Our Spiritual Care Practitioner will contact families with more information.

    “Best Practice Spotlight Organization”

    Our CEO, Rauni Salminen, and our Emily’s House Nurses are in the early stages of a global healthcare initiative:  Emily’s House has been selected as a “Best Practice Spotlight Organization” … “Building a Centre of Excellence in Safety.”  The initiative will elevate professionalism among clinicians, and further education in paediatric palliative care.

    National Volunteer Week

    It’s National Volunteer Week, and we couldn’t appreciate our volunteers more.  They will be feeling the love this week. As well as virtual celebrations and surprises, our Volunteer Department is providing ongoing supports to encourage volunteer health, wellbeing, and professional development. Volunteer retention is vitally important even when volunteers may be temporarily supporting fewer hospice clients face-to-face than pre-COVID times. 

    Volunteers Gardening at EH

    What could be a more encouraging sign of spring than smiling volunteers cultivating a garden? Thank you to Carol and Lydia, Emily’s House Gardening Volunteers, for opening the gardens, keeping a safe distance, and encouraging blossoms, buds and beauty. Special thanks also to Beech Nursery on Carlaw Avenue for donating plants.

    Prophix Software Inc. Employee Vote

    Thank you to Prophix Software Inc. and their employee giving initiative for their recent support of Emily’s House children’s hospice. The Prophix Corporate Social Responsibility team encourages employees to present charities for an employee vote on how to direct their corporate donations. Amanda Stone, Regional Account Manager, Construction & Real Estate, Prophix Software Inc., wrote: “I am very excited that Emily’s House was elected for our quarterly donation project at Prophix. Throughout my campaigning, I felt so much support from my colleagues and received a ton of positive feedback from people who really appreciate what Emily’s House does – I wanted to relay this appreciation to you. We are grateful for this opportunity to give back to you.”  Prophix donated $25,000 which helped our hospice to pivot to offer virtual in-home children’s hospice supports and family events, via YouTube, secure Zoom, and individual technology devices.  “We are constantly seeking out charities to work with whether it is for our quarterly donation or to provide opportunities for our staff to volunteer,” said Ron Massicotte, Executive Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Prophix: “We are looking forward to working more with Emily’s House in the future.”  

    Donate Online  

    Now, more than ever, as parents are physically isolated at home, and often providing 24/7 care for a medically-fragile child, all hospice supports designed to relieve the strain and bring children joy are desperately needed. For palliative adults at home, phone check-ins, virtual groups, and home-delivery supports can be a lifeline. Your donation can be directed to life-giving hospice programs. To donate online, visit: Donation Page

    Events Updates

    • 2021 Hike for Hospice:  An announcement is coming soon about this year's Event!

    Keeping in Touch

      For more frequent updates, visit or follow us:

    ♦ Twitter: @PAChospice_care


    ♦ Instagram: Emilyshousetoronto

    How You Can Help

    Donate online today, and support compassionate hospice care in your community:  or

    Emily’s House / Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care, 558 Gerrard St E Toronto, ON  M4M 1X8. 
    Thank you for having a heart for hospice!


    Sign Up for the Enews