Tributes pour in for Agape House pioneer Hilary Soares
Tributes were paid yesterday to a nurse who helped create hospice care for terminally ill patients in Bermuda.
Hilary Soares, the first clinical coordinator of Agape House Hospice, died on Friday aged 70 of the autoimmune disease ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), as reported in yesterday’s edition of
The Royal Gazette.
She spent the last few weeks of her life at Agape House and Friends of Hospice chairman Tim Hunter said that seemed “only fitting”.
“Hilary’s spirit will forever be a part of Agape House and hospice care in Bermuda,” he told
The Royal Gazette. “Her vision and dedication have helped to create a powerful legacy in the organisations of Agape House, Friends of Hospice and PALS (Patients Assistance League and Service).
“It seems only fitting that Hilary’s final days were at Agape House, benefiting from the hospice care she helped create, which has served so many in the Bermuda community.
“She would be proud of how much palliative care has grown in Bermuda and the cooperation between these organisations to enhance the quality of life for patients and their families.”
Mr Hunter added: “She was a doer. She was busy fundraising, she was working in the hospice and she was trying to think of how to create something out of nothing, to help create palliative care.
“One of the exciting things is that palliative care now has leadership from the hospital. There are two doctors assigned to palliative care and that was never the case before.”
The British mother-of-four, who was born in India, trained in the UK as a nurse and came to Bermuda in 1963, working for a time as Oncology Services Coordinator at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
Bermuda Hospitals Board CEO David Hill said: “Bermuda Hospitals Board was very sad to hear of the passing of Hilary Soares.
“Mrs Soares worked for Bermuda Hospitals Board in many roles and her contribution to patient care in Bermuda extends over decades.
“Our cancer service especially benefited from her passion to care for others and she was also was the first clinical coordinator of our hospice service, Agape House.
“On behalf of the BHB family, we extend our sympathies to her family and friends at this time.”
Mrs Soares ran as a United Bermuda Party candidate for Devonshire North Central in 2003.
Grant Gibbons, UBP leader at the time, said the party was very fortunate to have her join in the lead-up to the general election.
Dr Gibbons, now a One Bermuda Alliance MP, said: “She was wonderful to work with very sincere and committed to helping people but she also had a great sense of humour.
“As an experienced nurse, she brought a lot of good ideas, particularly on quality of life for seniors and their special needs, which were often being overlooked.
“We used many of her ideas in the 2003 UBP platform, including initiatives to strengthen pensions, improve housing and healthcare coverage and create a special seniors clinic with nurse practitioners and a gerontologist.
“She was a pioneer in many respects and her passing is a real loss to the Bermuda community. I would like to pass on my condolences to her husband Earl and her family.”
His party colleague Louise Jackson, who was also previously a UBP MP, described Mrs Soares as her mentor.
“She taught me everything I know,” said the Shadow Seniors Minister. “She taught me all about rest homes, how patients should be treated; she guided me right through the whole hospital situation.
“Once I entered Parliament, she was the chairman of my shadow ministry board for seniors. She’s the one who really catapulted seniors into a very important shadow ministry. I give her all the credit.”
Mark Selley, whom Mrs Soares assisted in founding the Bermuda Stroke and Family Support Association, described her as having an “excellent bedside manner”.
“She was able to relate to patients where doctors couldn’t,” he said. “She was a wonderful person and we had a wonderful working relationship.”
A memorial service will be held tomorrow at 2pm at St Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church, Middle Road, Warwick.