End-of-Life, Healthcare

End of Life Care in Canada

I came across a wonderful article in CIM, volume 36, no. 3, June 2013 by Deborah Cook, MD and Graeme Rooker, MD, Departments of Medicine, Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

In Ottawa on September 20, 2012, the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences held a forum entitled, ‘End of Life Care: the Last 100 Days’ which included presentations, discussions, research, current controversies, and future directions. I am sorry to have missed this.

Canada has used/focused energy and finances to improve the birth experience, but has yet to match the effort when it comes to death, dying, and end of life. How do we change this? How do we improve this?

Open lines of communication, dialogue, discussions, training of professionals no matter the discipline, are needed. This includes, nurses, physicians, social workers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, other medical staff, home care workers, companions, healthcare administrators, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc.

No matter where one works, the emotional ‘toll’ can be high. Staff needs to offer assistance and support to the dying patient and family should there be any, but they also need the skills, the training, and the support in the work environment to be able to do this.

Going a step further, when does the medical staff and healthcare staff make the change from ‘continue to focus on life-saving treatments and plans’ to ‘make a referral or change in the plan to palliative or hospice?

If the change to Palliative or Hospice; is there space in-patient or can the patient be best served and assisted in the community where they are at home with services? Is there family to assist? Community resources or private?

I want to open a dialogue, encourage discussions, witness training opportunities for staff and witness a supportive work environment which includes regular supervision and debriefing.

A movement or idea begins with one…..

By Victoria Brewster, MSW