A Case Study Exploring the Implications of One Alberta Rural Community’s Experience with Planning Their Own Hospice Care

Kyle Yvonne Whitfield


There are major implications for rural health care when citizens are organizing themselves to plan and address their own community health care needs. This article describes how one community in rural Alberta, Canada, worked to plan for their rapidly increasing hospice care needs. Specifically, it explores the factors that both helped and hindered them as they grew from a handful of citizens to a highly organized incorporated organization over a period of several years. The results reinforce that communities are not simply 'engaged' in such work but are actually leading the way in the planning, and delivering of social and health supports and services. Their story emphasizes the significant lack and neglect of needed healthcare in rural communities and shows, once again, how rural communities continue to do more with less by building on their own resources and capacities. This study advances our understanding about how hospice care, a major health care service in high demand, is being provided by community members as a result of governments downloading health service planning onto the shoulders of local communities in the name of ‘community engagement’.

Keywords: rural hospice, citizen planners, community development, community engagement

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.