Hospice

Exploring the Language of Loss: Caring, Supporting and Empowering

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Honoured to offer "Exploring the Language of Loss: Caring, Supporting and Empowering" as the Opening Keynote for the PalCare Network 2018 Fall Symposium.

This workshop will explore the language of loss while also examining tools and resources to support individuals, families, and ourselves. 

Objectives:
1. Examine the impact of loss in person and family-centred care
2. Encourage the caregiver to engage in the dialogue of loss
3. Explore self-care as an essential element of professional practice 

For more information about the PalCare 2018 Fall Symposium, or to register, please visit: http://www.palcarenetwork.org/

End Game Documentary and Discussion

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Excited to co-host and participate on the panel for the launch of the 2018-9 season of "The 100% Certainty Project. Death: Something to Talk About". Join us for a screening of the Netflix documentary, "END GAME" followed by a conversation with Palliative Care clinicians.

Our free public event at McMaster University features the brilliant documentary "End Game" from Shoshana Ungerleider, MD highlighting the essential tenets of Hospice Palliative Care. The film showcases the collaboration, compassion and communication as the heart of person and family-centred care at UCSF Medical Center with Steven Pantilat and the extraordinary interprofessional team. The film also highlights the brilliant work of Zen Hospice Project, showcasing Dr. BJ Miller and the extraordinary interprofessional team in Hospice.

Please join us for this engaging event! While the event is free, registration is required via Eventbrite via https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/end-game-documentary-and-discussion-tickets-50535681584

Healthcare Continuing Education: Palliative Care Certificate Program at Mohawk College

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Excited to be teaching my 9th consecutive semester in the Palliative Care Certificate Program for regulated and certified healthcare professionals (RNs, RPNs, OTs, PTs, RTs, SLPs, Social Workers, Dieticians, Physicians, etc.) with Continuing Education @mohawkcollege 

It is so important to demystify the breadth and scope of this approach to care while highlighting the need for early integration of Palliative Care. Every healthcare provider has an active role to play in supporting anyone (individual or family) facing a complex illness, from time of diagnosis, through to bereavement.

For more information about this holistic and collaborative interprofessional certificate program, please visit: https://www.mohawkcollege.ca/ce/programs/health-and-nursing/palliative-care-multidiscipline-017 

The Gift of a Hug for a Grieving Child or Teen

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Receiving a #Hug from a loved one is an incredible connection. Giving hand-knitted Hugs to #grieving #kids and #teens facing the dying or death of a loved one is a wonderful gift.

These #knitted Memory Scarves were made by #volunteers with Canadian Virtual Hospice in support of KidsGrief.ca providing a loving Hug and free resources to grieving kids, teens and families facing dying, grief and loss.

For more information, please visit: http://kidsgrief.ca/

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Honoured to be on Faculty for the National Learning Institute hosted by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association 

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Honoured to have been on Faculty for the National Learning Institute hosted by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) in Ottawa (June 14th-16th).

The CHPCA’s Learning Institute brings together healthcare professionals from across the country for an intense learning weekend. The program is directed towards intermediate and advance learning levels and is facilitated by specialist Hospice Palliative Care Clinicians, Educators and Researchers from across Canada, together with international leaders, making a sophisticated caliber of educators and mentors. This is the only event of its kind in Canada.

For information about the event, please visit: http://conference.chpca.net/about/

Breaking Down Barriers in the Context of Complex Illness, Uncertainty and Grief

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Am truly honoured to be presenting "Breaking Down Barriers in the Context of Complex Illness, Uncertainty and Grief" at the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers 2018 Annual Meeting and Education Day.

Serious illness, dying and grief remain taboo in society, yet the diagnosis of a serious illness has a profound impact on an individual and their loved ones, and often results in feelings of uncertainty, isolation and grief.

This presentation will explore the role of social work and social service work in providing compassionate care for individuals and families of all ages following the diagnosis of a complex illness, at end of life and into bereavement. I will speak to the roles of social work and social service work in providing education to demystify these issues and further advocate to break down barriers while promoting greater access to support, within our own practice and within our communities.

For more information, please visit:  http://www.ocswssw.org/members/amed/2018-amed/

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Extremis Documentary and Discussion

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Excited to co-host our next free public event with the Department of Family Medicine, Division of Palliative Care at McMaster University. This evening is part of our compassionate community initiative, “The 100% Certainty Project. Death: Something to Talk About". We will: feature the book “Extreme Measures" by Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter; view the remarkable Oscar-nominated documentary “Extremis” from Shoshana Ungerleider, MD; provide Advance Care Planning resources from the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association; and close the evening with a panel discussion comprised of clinicians and educators. This free public event in support of National Advance Care Planning Day. To register, please visit: Eventbrite

Communication and Connection for Families Coping with Cancer

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I am honoured to have been a guest on this week’s VoiceAmerica - Live Internet Talk Radio Breast Friends Cancer Support Radio Network. Becky Olson and Sharon Henifin of Breast Friends of Oregon, both breast cancer survivors and thrivers have asked me to be their guest to discuss "Communication and Connection for Families Coping with Cancer", demystifying Palliative Care and highlighting the need to support individuals and families of all ages, from time of diagnosis through to bereavement. At the conclusion of our episode, I highlighted the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association as sources of information for people wanting to learn more about Palliative Care in the U.S. and Canada.

Breast Friends is a nonprofit organization started by Sharon and Becky so that no woman would feel alone on her journey and to provide needed resources to those facing the challenge of breast cancer, as well as to their families and friends. Please visit their website for more information: www.BreastFriends.org.

This episode aired live and is now archived at https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/106520/communication-and-connection-for-families-coping-with-cancer

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The Need for Access to Timely Support and Education about Palliative Care

As we all encounter serious illnesses, uncertainty, grief, death and bereavement, there is a remarkable opportunity to create compassionate care for individuals and families of all ages, from time of diagnosis, into remission, at end of life and into bereavement.

It is so essential to demystify the incredible breadth and interprofessional scope of a Palliative approach to care in the education of all health science students and healthcare professionals.

It was a wonderful honour to speak with Death By Design Podcast - Kimberly C. Paul about the future of healthcare. As death is not elective, and illness and dying do not discriminate, we all encounter life-limiting illness, dying and grief. So... let's talk about it.

This episode is available via: http://www.deathbydesign.com/podcast/season-2-episode-10-c-elizabeth-dougherty/

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A free Handbook for Supporters. Extending Compassion & Care to Grieving Youth

Am truly honoured to be a partner agency with the Children and Youth Grief Network.

Absolutely thrilled to announce our new resource is now available for FREE to any supporter caring for grieving children and youth. As grief and loss does not discriminate and affects children and teens everywhere, this resource is appropriate for anyone working with, or caring for, children and teens.

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This invaluable resource outlines creative activities, tools and resources while providing essential information about how to support children and teens throughout the grieving process.

If you would like to receive a pdf. of "A Handbook for Supporters. Extending Compassion & Care to Grieving Youth", please contact the Children and Youth Grief Network via info@childrenandyouthgriefnetwork.com

A Wonderful evening at the Burlington Death Cafe!

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Thank you to all in attendance this evening at the City of Burlington, Ontario Death Cafe in support of World Hospice Palliative Care Day, The Carpenter Hospice and the Compassionate City Charter. It was indeed an uplifting evening of inspiring conversations (& lots of laughter!). Great opportunity to demystify the incredible breadth and scope of Hospice Palliative Care!

Special thanks to the staff and volunteers of Carpenter Hospice who gave of their time this evening, and to our wonderful hosts at Emma's Back Porch & Water Street Cooker!

Next Burlington Death Cafe is in April in support of Advance Care Planning Day! #talkaboutdeath

Burlington Death Café. In Celebration of World Hospice Palliative Care Day

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In Celebration of World Hospice Palliative Care Day, and in support of the Burlington Compassionate City Charter and the Carpenter Hospice, the Burlington Death Café will be held on October 11th, 2017 from 7-9pm at Emma's Back Porch.

Death Café is an international movement where people, often strangers, gather together to eat, drink and discuss death. The objective is 'to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives’.

At Death Café, you can expect a group directed discussion of death with no agenda, objectives or themes. It is a discussion group, rather than grief support or a counselling session. It is a respectful, public event where people of all communities and belief systems are welcome to have discussions about death.

Interesting conversation is guaranteed!

This is a free public event, but seating is limited. For information, or to register, please visit Eventbrite

For more information about Death Café, please visit http://deathcafe.com/

Death: A Part of Life. A 5-Part Mini Series (podcast)

Am honoured to have been a guest panelist on the final instalment of Death: A Part of Life - Part 5: The Grieving Process.

This informative 5-Part radio series with the Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice aired on CHML 900. Each week panelists including caregivers and healthcare professionals convened to open up a conversation about dying, death, grief and loss. The series explores issues such as: coping with the diagnosis of a serious illness; demystifying hospice palliative care; exploring available supports and services; advance care planning; the dying process and grieving which ultimately impacts us all.

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The links to the podcasts of Death: A Part of Life are listed below:

 Death, A Part Of Life - Part 1: Palliative Care

It’s a fact of life that at one point we all will die. But is it all as simple as that? Bill Kelly and the Bob Kemp hospice will be discussing grief, relief and the acceptance of passing away. On today’s show we discuss what happens when you’re told you don’t have much time left, and whether healthcare is asking too much of caregivers, and whether people are prepared for palliative care.

Death, A Part Of Life - Part 2: Changes To Palliative Care.

For our second show, we will discuss what the palliative care system is now, how it works and what changes need to be made. What does one of our local MPPs hear from his constituents about healthcare and in particular, palliative care? How would changes affect patients? Does fear have a hold on how we make our decisions once we’re diagnosed as palliative? An example of this is whether to choose palliative care or medically assisted death.

Death, A Part Of Life - Part 3: Religion and Palliative Care.

We continue our series this week with two topics. The first one will be discussing the experience of death. Everyone treats death in our world differently. But is it strictly a medical experience or is it a spiritual one? In our second half, we will talk about access to palliative care services in various sectors of our society. How do we help the vulnerable and the community obtain access to proper palliative care?

Death: A Part of Life - Part 4: Bucket lists and preparation.

Life should be celebrated at all stages, whether it be infancy, adulthood and as life comes to a close. So how can we make the most out of life? How can those who are in palliative care achieve their “bucket list” dreams before they pass, and how does it apply when it comes to their own personal circumstances? How do we define a “bucket list”? How wise is it to be prepared for eventual health issues? How should we plan for advanced care and how does it affect the family? How do we navigate through the difficult decisions and pain to provide care for loved ones who are palliative?

Death: A Part of Life - Part 5: The grieving process.

The final instalment in our series sees us discussing grief and how this isn’t just an event that happens in life but a process that families have to go through. How do families grieve the loss of a loved one? How can we support one another and how does grief affect children?

Source: Global News. AM 900 CHML

Across the Continuum: The Need for Innovative Approaches to Person and Family-Centred Care

Was honoured to present Across the Continuum: The Need for Innovative Approaches to Person and Family-Centred Care, a H.I.T (Healthcare, Innovation, Technology) Talk at the Hospice Palliative Care Ontario 2017 Annual Conference "Accessing Compassionate Hospice Palliative Care Across the Continuum"  (excerpt below). 

From time of diagnosis so much is asked of those facing a life-limiting illness… Ultimately, they’re expected to “hold on” while also having to “let go”. How then can we consider innovative approaches to person and family-centred care across the continuum, at a time when healthcare providers are required to do more, with less?

I am honoured to say that I am a Social Worker, and there’s a phrase that rings true for me in the work that I do as I often step outside of my comfort zone. The idea of “leaning into the discomfort”. I’d like to reflect on why it’s important for every healthcare provider to consider the way we approach our work. 

Working within a frenetic yet extraordinary healthcare system, we face time-constraints, the demand for evidence-based competencies, the expectation of metrics and outcome measures, people often referred to by a medical record number or identified by a disease… quite often, healthcare feels rushed and impersonal… As a result, healthcare providers may not fully engage because of increasing practice demands and time constraints, they may avoid certain experiences where they don’t feel competent or hesitate to go those places when faced with uncertainty… 

In fact, much like life itself… acknowledging and meeting the challenges in the midst of uncertainty and chaos are really an integral part of our work. How then can we engage and enter those spaces when we feel that we don’t have time, when we don’t know the answers, or when we’re unsure of what we may find?

While the idea of creating and implementing innovations in practice may sound weighty, the definition of innovation is actually quite simple. Innovation is the introduction of something new… a new idea, method or device. That’s it. You don’t necessarily need to write a grant, or consider retraining, or apply to the research ethics board (and while that may be part of your innovation), introducing something new doesn’t have to be onerous, it can actually be something quite simple.

Hospice Palliative Care has always been ahead of the curve… in recognizing and valuing person and family-centred care, in acknowledging "total pain", in taking holistic approaches to supporting quality of life, to recognizing and integrating interprofessional collaboration. Innovations in Hospice Palliative Care remain essential today, and perhaps more so now than ever before. 

At present, we’re faced with tremendous opportunity. With the quality of living and dying on our social and political landscape, with Bill C-277 (An Act providing for the development of a framework on Palliative Care in Canada) passed by the House of Commons, with the provincial and federal governments acknowledging the need for increased funding in Hospice Palliative Care… we’re on the precipice of change. How then can we be agents of change, and consider innovative approaches to person and family-centred care across the continuum - from time of diagnosis, throughout the trajectory of an illness, at end of life and into bereavement?

We face the reality that many people, including many healthcare providers, assume that Hospice Palliative Care is nothing more than a euphemism for end-of-life care. That presents us with an opportunity… to continue to advocate and educate about the remarkable scope and breadth of Hospice Palliative Care across the continuum. But in doing so, it’s also important to consider, when does dying begin, and how can we support people to live well during that process?

Does dying begin the moment we’re born? Or when a fatal condition begins? Is it when that condition is recognized by a physician, or it when nothing more can be done to reverse the condition or to preserve life? As we know, the answer to that question varies from one person to the next…

While many focus on the quality of dying, or on death as a singular event, isn’t the whole end-of-life experience informed by the people and the events leading up to that death? 

It’s these processes that take place in the days, weeks, months and even years before the death that are of paramount importance and contribute to overall quality of life - and that’s where we, as a community of care providers, can have the greatest impact.

Healthcare providers are often inhibited by their anxieties about saying or doing the wrong thing. This is true for any clinician, beyond our formal training and education, we continually face new scenarios, challenging experiences and uncertainty… We need to step outside of our comfort zone, and with humility… explore person and family-centred innovative approaches to care in an effort to promote healing.

It’s a profoundly intimate experience when we are allowed to share that space with someone facing dying, death, grief and loss… that compassionate connection can transcend so many barriers, and sometimes, however momentarily, sometimes… it can even transcend suffering. That connection can be extraordinary.

I believe as Health Care providers in Hospice Palliative Care, we can continue to lean into our discomfort and remain open to uncertainty and to wonder. I believe, through our humility and vulnerability, we can create compassionate and innovative approaches to person and family-centred care, and in doing so, provide invaluable opportunities for people to connect, and collectively process experiences across the continuum - from time of diagnosis, through to end-of-life and into bereavement. 

As Dr. Rachel Remen explains, "the most important questions don't seem to have ready answers. But the questions themselves have a healing power when they are shared. An answer is an invitation to stop thinking about something, to stop wondering. Life has no such stopping places; life is a process whose every event is connected to the moment that just went by. An unanswered question is a fine traveling companion. It sharpens your eye for the road".

We’ll always face challenges and uncertainty in our work, but we need to be invested in innovative approaches to person and family-centred care, because as Dr. B.J. Miller says "Quality of Life isn't a Consolation Prize".

Hospice Palliative Care is about Living Well. Right to the End. 

It's National Hospice Palliative Care Week and it is so important to demystify and destigmatize the incredible breadth and scope of Hospice Palliative Care. 

Hospice Palliative Care is about Living Well. Right to the End. 

Hospice Palliative Care is aimed at relieving suffering and improving the quality of life for persons who are living with, or dying from, advanced illness or are bereaved. 

The goal of Palliative Care is to provide comfort and dignity for the person living with the illness, as well as the best quality of life for both this person and his or her family*.

Palliative Care services are helpful not only when a person is approaching death but also during the earlier stages of an illness. Palliative care may be combined with other treatments aimed at reducing or curing the illness.

*”family" is whoever the person says his or her family is.

For more information and resources regarding Hospice Palliative Care, please visit the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association

A Therapeutic Intervention Facilitating Connection in the Context of Life-Limiting Illness

This video provides a brief overview of an expressive arts project that I complete with families of all ages, following the diagnosis of a life-limiting illness, through to end-of-life and into bereavement. Presented at the 13th Annual Innovations in Palliative Care – Leadership, Courage & Community. McMaster University. Department of Family Medicine. Division of Palliative Care. Faculty of Health Sciences (November 2016). This project serves as a therapeutic intervention facilitating communication and honouring connections in the context of life-limiting illness and can be completed by anyone, anywhere at any time. 

It’s a profoundly intimate experience when we are allowed to care for someone… that compassionate connection can transcend so many barriers, and can sometimes even transcend suffering. That connection can be extraordinary.

We all have a role to play in helping to honour someone’s legacy. I believe as Health Care Professionals, like those we care for - we can be courageous in the face of illness, and vulnerability and uncertainty…

We can step out from behind the protection of our roles and in doing so, provide invaluable opportunities for families to connect, and collectively process experiences from time of diagnosis through to end-of-life and into bereavement. 

Source: You Tube. A Therapeutic Intervention Facilitating Connection in the Context of Life-Limiting Illness

What people talk about before they die

“I visit people who are dying -- in their homes, in hospitals, in nursing homes. And if you were to ask me the same question -- What do people who are sick and dying talk about with the chaplain? -- I, without hesitation or uncertainty, would give you the same answer. Mostly, they talk about their families: about their mothers and fathers, their sons and daughters.

They talk about the love they felt, and the love they gave. Often they talk about love they did not receive, or the love they did not know how to offer, the love they withheld, or maybe never felt for the ones they should have loved unconditionally.”

Why is it so hard to talk about dying? @whenyoudieorg #hpm

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"When heading into the unknown unprepared, we humans are rarely at our most confident. And when it comes to death, we have plenty of reason to feel anxious. It’s times like these that we need to hear from those who’ve gone before us. And that’s what our latest WYD In Focus provides: candid accounts from family members and caregivers who’ve been present at the deaths of loved ones—because understanding what happens at the bedside might surprise you."

Source: When You Die

Celebrating Connections: A Creative Legacy Project #hpm

Grateful for hosting and to all in attendance honouring connections.

Legacy Art Workshop Art Gallery of Burlington for the launch of the Compassionate City Charter - Burlington via @snapdBurlington

Sign the e-petition to support Bill C-277. An Act providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada

Petition to the Minister of Health

Whereas:

  • the 2011 Report from the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care outlined the importance of quality palliative care, which must be available to all Canadians in order for there to be a real choice at end of life;
  • upwards of 70% of Canadians do not have access to quality palliative care; and
  • Canadians deserve to be treated with care and compassion during their last days to live as well as they can for as long they can.

Source: E-petitions. House of Commons

Less than 600 Canadians had signed this online petition as of October 1st. 

Please sign the online petition to the Minister of Health is open for signature until November 9, 2016.

Please advocate for a national strategy and universal access to Hospice Palliative Care. Show your support for Bill C-277 to improve access to care for all Canadians.