A promise fulfilled: Blissfulsage Foundation, Belize

Categories: Care.

In 2011 Raquel Battle, a PhD candidate at Walden University, was the first Belizean alumni at the Clinton Global Initiative University. Her commitment? To build the first hospice facility in her country of birth, Belize. Today, she stands with the support of her Belizean community with a passion to expand the spectrum of care for cancer patients in Belize.

The loss of a parent is a traumatic experience. However, it could also awaken a sense of hope and mission. Such an awakening is precisely the motivation for building the first hospice in Southern Belize.

Raquel Battle lost her dad, Mr Edlin Leslie Sr. to prostate cancer in 2007. During his final months, Mr Leslie received dignified, patient centered, compassionate care through Capital Hospice of Northern Virginia, US. Inspired by the high quality of care that he received as a patient, Mr Leslie expressed his hope that some day a hospice could be established in Belize. Raquel promised her 71 year old dad that she would honour his wish.

In 2010 she established the Blissfulsage Foundation, and went on to open the Edlin Leslie Sr. Hospice and Home Care Program in November 2011 in Dangriga, the largest community in southern Belize. There is also a satellite office in the southern coastal village of Placencia. The vision of the Edlin Leslie Sr. Hospice is to provide quality, compassionate, dignified care to terminally ill cancer patients in Belize. Its mission is to build and operate the first hospice facility in Southern Belize.

Scope of Services

The Edlin Leslie Sr. Hospice fills a gap in Belize’s healthcare system. Without hospice facilities, the families of patients were forced to suffer helplessly in addition to their existing economic challenges. Those who could afford it had no alternative but to travel abroad for the support needed during their final stages of cancer.

To date there is no respite or residential care hospice facility in Belize. With the support of the Edlin Leslie Sr. home care program, patients and family caregivers are educated about the philosophy of hospice care and are provided supplies, spiritual support and guidance through the dying and bereavement process.

Since its establishment, the Edlin Leslie Sr. Hospice has provided access to quality care to an increasing number of patients. It is our goal to provide a place, a ‘home’, that will provide a dignified end of life experience for our patients.

Partnerships

Since the establishment of the Edlin Leslie Sr. Hospice, a number of national partners have committed their support for the fundraising efforts of this facility. As part of our goal to provide an excellent, compassionate, patient centered service we intend to build a high quality facility, the first LEED-certified facility in Belize. Constructing this facility requires that we raise US$500,000. To date we have acquired a one acre plot of land as the site for the facility, raised US$35,000 in monetary donations and US$16,500 in in-kind donations. Belize’s Ministry of Health has pledged support for the facility in the form of human resources.

The foundation has partnered with organizations for support to strengthen capacity and to increase sustainability. Over the past seven years, funds have been raised through our annual ‘Battle Cancer’ walk and free early detection program and other fundraising campaigns. Amidst the challenges of a vulnerable Belizean economy, we continue to persevere in establishing a hospice that is tailored to the diverse needs of the resource-strained populations of our country.

Blissfulsage Foundation has also established important partnerships and gained organisational support from a number of Belizean entities. With the wife of Belize’s Prime Minister and Special Envoy for Women and Children, Mrs Kim Simpliss-Barrow, a joint benefit concert will be hosted in Belize City later this year. Support from key partners such as the Belize Bank Ltd., the Anglican Diocese of Belize, Love Foundation, and others has been critical in the establishment, capacity building and sustainability of this first hospice in Belize.

As an affiliate and strategic partner of the Ministry of Health, the hospice has organised national end of life training programs for medical professionals of all disciplines across Belize. In 2011, the End of Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC), with support from the American Association for the History of Nursing, conducted a two day ‘Train the Trainer’ course in Belize. With the support of these two organisations and their collaboration with Blissfulsage Foundation and the Ministry of Health, Blissfulsage Foundation was able to open its doors and start providing hospice services in Southern Belize. Effective partnerships, collaboration, coordination and commitment are critical to the success of this first hospice in Belize.

Positive Social Impact

When completed, the new hospice facility will expand the spectrum of care for cancer patients. It will provide care, comfort  and support through a program developed based on the community needs, with a focus on physical, spiritual, psychosocial and cultural needs of the patients being served.

Expanding the spectrum of healthcare for those facing end of life decisions in Belize is critical. Being able to establish this hospice facility and to function within an existing healthcare system will be important for the future of this hospice program. Much work is left to be done.

If you would like to find out more, or for information on how to donate, visit the Blissfulsage website or contact Raquel Battle, Founder and President of Blissfulsage Foundation by calling +626-940-7879 or via email: elshospice@gmail.com.