Palliative Care

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How Are We Serving Those Nearing The End Of Their Lives?

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.
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How To Really Be There For Someone Who Is Dying

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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Assisted Suicide Policy Needs to Account for the Human Ability to Overcome

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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Assisted Suicide Is on Canada's Radar, But What About 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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Is Canada Ready for Assisted Suicide?

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."
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Why Canada Needs a Palliative Care Strategy

We have all lost a family member or loved one. How those loved ones were treated in their final days -- whether through a holistic palliative service or while waiting for a bed in an emergency unit -- profoundly impacts how we approach this issue. This past spring the Parliament of Canada supported the New Democrat Motion 456 on establishing a pan-Canadian palliative care strategy. Across this country, palliative care is being delivered in a patchwork manner. Some regions have wonderful palliative services while other regions make do with volunteerism and fragmented service options.
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Some Good News For NDP

OTTAWA - The House of Commons passed an Opposition motion Wednesday that calls on the federal government to come up with a national strategy on palliative care.And while she's not promising to launch...
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How to Die Well

If all this sounds too daunting, here is some language you might want to consider. Imagine turning to the person you have in mind and begin by saying something like, "I love you." If that feels like a stretch, you can always start with: "Look, I care about you, most of the time" or "What matters to you matters to me."
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How to Die With Dignity at Home

Most of us have the desire to end our days in the comfort of our own homes, but the reality is that more often than not, we will spend our last days in hospital or in a nursing home on palliative care. With this type of care, the only medical intervention provided is purely for comfort and pain relief. But palliative care doesn't end with the patient; it extends to their family, and the entire process of accepting what will be a peaceful, dignified death.
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Searching for Dignity in Death

My personal experience with my father's end of life made me a champion for the development of Ontario's good palliative care model and it's why I believe that every Canadian should be compelled to initiate a Living Will in order to provide advance medical direction in the event of a catastrophic event.
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Helping the Old Die at Home

Most seniors say they want to die at home. However, about half of seniors are dying in hospitals. Given the numbers, it seems a daunting task to grant a senior's wish to die at home. Dr. Louise Coulombe set out to meet that challenge when she founded a home care palliative care practice in Ottawa.