WHO WE ARE
Wishstone is a partnership between Sarah Farr and Ruth MacKay, who between us bring over 20 years of experience and training in hospice and palliative care, aging policy and quality standards, and project management.
After meeting as fellow hospice volunteers in 2016, we realized we shared a passion for supporting individuals and families to navigate the complex issues and emotions surrounding aging, dying, death and grieving. Within the context of an aging population, we recognized that many people do not have adequate access to the kinds of integrated supports and services they need. We decided to offer our expertise as part of a growing community of practitioners working to expand awareness, engagement and dialogue around these important stages of life.
We participate regularly in specialist workshops to learn more about topics such as advance care planning, living with Alzheimer’s, home funerals, and bereavement and grieving, as well as attending various death cafes in Toronto. Additionally, we continue to research the expanding role of end-of-life doulas and have engaged with several of the ground-breaking practitioners in this role.
We offer our services to the highest professional and ethical standards as outlined in the principles and codes of conduct of organizations such as:
Born and raised in the UK, Sarah first arrived in Canada in the 1990’s to complete her work placement at The Royal Canadian Yacht Club as part of her hospitality degree in the UK – who knew 25 years later she would still be here!
While working in the hospitality industry both in the UK and Canada in private clubs, restaurants and hotels she furthered her education by obtaining a degree in marketing. From there she obtained progressively senior positions in the PR industry in Toronto working for retail and IT companies. Since 2007 she has worked as the office manager for a boutique event management company, providing exemplary customer service to new and existing clients.
After the death of her own father Sarah became very interested in the issues surrounding end of life. In 2015, she qualified as a Soul Midwife after completing training in the UK with award-winning pioneer in the field, Felicity Warner. Building on her UK training she joined Toronto Hospice in 2016, where she has provided in-home care and bereavement support for a diverse group of hospice clients. In 2017, she joined the Kensington Hospice volunteer team as a resident and family care provider. Sarah is also currently assisting with the introduction of The Bello Project in Toronto for the Home Hospice Association, to support the journeys of pets along the path of their loved one’s life-limiting illness. Sarah is also a Reiki practitioner.
Sarah’s interests outside of work are yoga, running, enjoying family life with her husband and two teenage daughters, and loving all things British. With her lovely dog, Holly, she has recently qualified with St John’s Ambulance as a Therapy Dog Owner.
Sarah has a positive and empathic temperament. She recognizes that death is a reality for us all – but with her knowledge and support wishes to assist each individual with their very personal decisions about ending of life.
Ruth has over 20 years of professional experience in senior project management and strategic planning roles in the broader public sector (provincial government and postsecondary institutions) and over 10 years of experience as a trained hospice volunteer.
In 2015, realizing that she was finding her volunteer role much more rewarding than her “paid” career, Ruth took early retirement and went to graduate school to obtain MSc. in Aging and Health from Queen’s University. Since then, she has focused on learning more about hospice palliative care and issues around dying, death and grieving in order to identify a role where she could provide meaningful services that build on her experience and skills. During 2017 Ruth was invited to participate as a member of Health Quality Ontario’s Working Group to advise on the development of quality standards for palliative care in Ontario. She was an active participant during the year-long process (standards were released publicly in April 2018). Ruth recently completed a nine-month program in Mindfulness and Compassion Training for End-of-Life Professionals through the Sarana Institute/Sick Kids Hospital.
With over 100 hours of training as a hospice volunteer, Ruth has provided person-centered care to hundreds of individuals in both in-home and residential hospice settings, and compassionate support to their families and friends. Her training has also encompassed bereavement support and she has facilitated bereavement groups as well as providing personal outreach to friends and family following the death of a loved one. As an experienced volunteer at Kensington Hospice, she also mentors new volunteers and contributes to volunteer training. Recently, Ruth supported a family member who chose Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) and is knowledgeable about the process elements, as well as the emotional complexities, associated with this new legal option.
Ruth is a passionate advocate for better end-of-life planning and care who brings warmth and commitment to improving quality of life for the living, the dying and the grieving.