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The Quebec government is not on board.
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It will be five years before Canada's assisted suicide and euthanasia regime has to report back to the nation. These two stories offer reasons why that report will fail to reveal those depressed patients, far from death, who are steered to suicide by others and by their untreated mental illness.
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Our healthcare system has responsibility for 'cradle to grave' care but far more attention has been placed on the beginning of life, and the events during life, than at the end. Without sacrificing the gains we have made and the progress still to be made at the start of life and during life, we also need to create a strong focus about what high quality care looks like as people are diagnosed with serious illness and get closer to death.
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Underlying the pressure and support for the right to assisted dying is the fear that people with debilitating and painful conditions will suffer a bad death. Many would try palliative care first, but they want the final option if it doesn't work for them.
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Last fall, Adrian's father Anthony started complaining of abdominal discomfort. Within a matter of weeks, Anthony was admitted to the Sunnybrook palliative care unit. Adrian and Rika knew his illness was becoming more severe, so with Anthony's blessing, decided to get married at the hospital.
Talking about the end of your life must be part of your diagnosis.
The Canadian Cancer Society said Canada must reform its approach to palliative care.
I've learned that when you want to support someone who's critically ill, loving them isn't enough; you have to meet them where they are. That means letting go of your wishful thinking, your denial, or your selfish need to put a positive spin on things and allowing the other person -- the one who's dying -- to set the tone.
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Human beings are not good at predicting how they will react in circumstances that have yet to unfold. Those of us working in healthcare understand that life-altering illness, trauma or anticipation of death can sometimes sap the will to live. In those instances, healthcare providers are called upon to commit time; time to manage distress, provide unwavering support and to assuage fear that patients might be abandoned to their hopelessness and despair. That is the essence of how medicine has traditionally responded to suffering. Stopping time by way of arranging the patient's death has never been part of that response.
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The importance of quality palliative care gets overshadowed by our national debate over euthanasia or medically assisted death. There is a lack of understanding about what palliative care means and how it can help to ensure that we and those we love are able to make that journey to the end of life with dignity.
For 70 to 80 per cent of Canadians, palliative care is not available and hence, not a real choice. A dear friend of mine recently died of brain cancer. She spent her final months in hospice, where she received exquisite end-of-life care. How might this kind of scenario play itself out in the many Canadian settings that do not have adequate palliative care?
Last week's Supreme Court decision has put the issue of assisted suicide square onto the government agenda. However, it would be a real loss for Canadians if Parliament does not look at the much broader issue of how we care for Canadians suffering from incurable illnesses. Over the last year I have had the fortune to meet with front line providers of palliative care across Canada. The question that needs to be asked is how can the Federal government respond to the spirit of the Supreme Court ruling unless it also deals with this patchwork of end of life services in this country?
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You've read these stories before. Elderly couple have been married for years, first one takes ill, then the other and they inevitably go within hours or days of each other. This is one of those stor...
This past week, the Supreme Court of Canada has been hearing an appeal by the BC Civil Liberties Association that could grant terminally ill Canadians the right to assisted suicide. The Court faces a daunting task. Palliative care cannot eliminate every facet of end-of life suffering. Preserving dignity for patients at the end of life requires a steadfast commitment to non-abandonment, meticulous management of suffering and a tone of care marked by kindness. In response to this dignity conserving approach, the former head of the Hemlock Society conceded that "if most individuals with a terminal illness were treated this way, the incentive to end their lives would be greatly reduced."