Once upon a time, there were competencies

Once upon a time, competencies were developed for health care providers in palliative and end of life care. There were competencies written for nurses, health care workers (nursing assistants, personal support workers, hospice aides), physicians and social workers, and others. There were competencies developed in many lands, in Ireland and the United States, in Nova Scotia and Alberta, in Ottawa and Vancouver, to name just a few. After creation, competencies struggled to be heard and adopted and too often were not used to inform curriculum or education development.

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YOUR MORTALITY IS AN OPPORTUNITY IN DISGUISE By Reena Lazar + Michelle Pante

Thanks to Michelle and Reena for this posting…. michelle-pante-and-reenaEarlier this year, we (Michelle and Reena) both spent time actively being with the fact that we’re going to die and we don’t know when; could be tomorrow, could be next week, or 37 years from now. It changed our lives. We each wrote a Heart Will to be read at our end-of-life rituals, and Love Letters to our respective school-aged daughters to have when we die. The impact on us continues to be profound. Reena finds herself gushing with acknowledgements and expressions of gratitude to people around her and about everyday events, not something she ever did with abundance before. As a result she finds life to be so much brighter and lighter! When writing her love letter to her daughter, Michelle asked herself, “What have I learned in my 48 years that will help this 10-year-old girl navigate her life, no matter what age she is when I die?” This process of letter writing helped Michelle uncover and crystallize one of her core truths; a truth that now calls her to account every day: “I am my own best friend and my own worst enemy. It’s my relationship with myself not with anyone else that needs attention, tenderness and care.” We launched WILLOW last spring with the radical goal of transforming the often-fragmented process of what is usually called “advanced planning” into a rich opportunity for personal growth and transformation. We want people to use that opportunity of getting clear and communicating their pragmatic and prosaic wishes about all matters ‘end of life’ — health and personal care, financial and legal matters, deathcare and funerals, legacy and remembering — to make a difference to the richness of their lives now no matter their age or state of health.  We’re all going to die, and we don’t know when. If you’ve experienced the death of someone close to you, then alongside your sorrow, or perhaps even your relief, you may have felt a force to renew or change something in your life. People in their dying days often speak of experiencing enormous growth and transformation while contemplating death. If death can provide this, so too can the conscious contemplation of your mortality. Let’s make our mortality work for us. Your mortality is an opportunity in disguise.At WILLOW, our core desire is to inspire personal reflection and action that will touch, move and inspire you, or make you stop and wonder, and perhaps even reconsider. To support you to reflect on your life and create lasting messages for those you love, we designed a weekly workshop series that will inspire you to live fully now.  LOVE LETTERS + HEART WILLS will be offered in Vancouver this WINTER (Jan 26 start) and SPRING (Mar 15 start).  In a thoughtful and dynamic group process we co-facilitate a small group process in which you will: Uncover the source of your feelings about your inevitable death.Reflect on your life and how you want to be remembered.Write a Heart Will and at least one Love Letter to capture your wisdom, wishes and special messages to be shared at or before the time of your death.  “LOVE LETTERS + HEART WILLS was ground-breaking, transformative and essentials reflections for the soul.” – Helena Cynamon With extensive training in deathcare—Michelle as a funeral director and hospice volunteer and Reena in all aspects of family and community-led deathcare —Reena and Michelle share a passion for using the conversation around death as a pathway to growth and healing for individuals, communities and the planet. With every cell in our bodies, we believe that contemplating your inevitable and unpredictable death can actually light up and enrich your life now. To dive deeper into this area of personal reflection and discovery, we invite you to:
  • Forward this post to someone you know who loves to explore who and what matters most.

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It Takes A Village….

It takes a village to raise a child, (and my mother added, “It takes a community to care for the dying”).

I often think of this quote and celebrate the people who helped me to raise my kids, and those who contribute to the development of hospice and palliative care education resources.

This past week I received some beautiful, inspiring, testimonials about our new nurse’s text, Essentials in Hospice and Palliative Care: A Practical Resource for Every Nurse. I want to share those testimonials, but do NOT want to share the testimonials until I acknowledge the people who contributed to the development and inspired or influenced or assisted with the writing of the text.

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The Right to Palliative Care

We just attended the Hospice Palliative Care Ontario 2016 Conference in Toronto. Wonderful event with nearly 800 attendees.

Much talk about PAD (Physician Assisted Dying) or MAID (Medical Assistance In Dying). The following day there was an interesting opinion piece in the Globe and Mail by Dr Tom Koch, a gerontologist and ethicist, who provides chronic and palliative consultations. The title of the article, “The next court challenge, the right to better care“.

Koch asks the question, “If the Supreme Court decision enshrines choice as a principle of Canadian justice,  then what choice are we to be offered? If it is between constant pain and an early death, most of us would prefer the latter. Expert palliative care can mitigate physical suffering in, according to experts, perhaps 95% of all cases. But at present, that level of pain control is unavailable to many Canadians. Without its surety, the choice is limited, if not empty, and justice therefore denied because a real full choices is withheld. Similarly, all agree that end stage home care and hospice care can make the last stage of an illness more than bearable. But many Canadians who would choose this, can not, it is not available. And without its insurance, the choices they are offered to care to the end are limited.”

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Personal reflection: Medical Assistance in Dying

Today Bill C-14 was presented to parliament. big smooth rock in water

Today the Canadian Government introduced legislation to make medical assistance in dying legal. The facts about the proposed legislation can be found here.

People have asked what I think about Medical Assistance in Dying. I have not presented my thoughts openly on this topic, for a number of reasons. Tonight, I will respond to those who have asked, and I will share a few very personal thoughts.

April 14th. My reflection on Medical Assistance in Dying

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Advance Care Planning Day – Speak Up!

Advance Care Planning Day in Canada, and National Healthcare Decisions Day in the USA, is quickly approaching. On April 16, 2016, it’s time to speak up – and have discussions with friends and family members about your wishes for end-of-life.

Life and Death Matters created Care Planning Cookies, edible cookies with a message inside, each one intended to stimulate conversations about living well and dying well. One hospital in Ontario is ensuring that each patient receives a cookie on their meal tray, and that family and staff are given cookies with their food and beverages in the cafeteria, leading up to April 16th.

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Incorporating Love In Professional Practice

Written by Kath Murray and Misha Butot. This writing was inspired by Misha’s original research and was lovingly edited by Coby Tschanz, Allyson Wightman and Joanne Thomson

Misha Butot was a counselor with 14 years of professional experience when she became curious about how love was a factor or perhaps the essence of quality physical and emotional care. She explored the ways that self-reflective and social justice oriented care providers thought and practiced “love” in their work with those they served by speaking with both clients and colleagues. She traveled through western Canada interviewing a small but diverse group of care providers of different ages, genders, sites of practice, and cultural and spiritual backgrounds. In spite of this diversity, many of their perspectives on the key role of love in their work were remarkably similar.

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“I don’t have time for this!” – A Compassionate Guide to Caring for Your Parents and Yourself

Guest blog post by Katherine Arnup – life coach, speaker, and a retired Carleton University professor.  Author of the award-winning book Education for Motherhood, a history of advice for mothers, she has pioneered studies on the diversity of family life. In her latest book, “I don’t have time for this!” A Compassionate Guide to Caring for Your Parents and Yourself, she tackles the last taboo—death itself. 

Almost twenty years ago, my sister Carol died of cancer.

She was a gifted Special Education teacher, director of countless school musicals, and my big sister. In January 1997, 19 years after her first encounter with melanoma, her cancer returned with an unstoppable force. As part of a team of friends and family, I cared for her during her final six months: the saddest, most terrifying and most transformative experience of my life.

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iPanel – Conceptual foundations of a palliative approach: a knowledge synthesis

Over the past few years I have cited the iPANEL research (Initiative for a Palliative Approach in Nursing: Evidence and Leadership) as one of the most important research projects in hospice and palliative care today.

Today the iPANEL team announced the publication of their latest article – Conceptual foundations of a palliative approach: a knowledge synthesisThe article can be found here.

Please distribute this article widely! This is an open access journal, so SEND people to the LINK instead of sending the PDF. The number of hits impacts the ranking of the article on the journal’s website!

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Love Your Life to Death

Yvonne Heath is a wife, mother to three amazing children and a nurse since 1988. She has worked in ten different hospitals in Ontario, New York, Louisiana and Texas, and has nursed in the emergency room, long term care, medical and surgical units, intensive care in chemotherapy and hospice. Yvonne has witnessed a great deal of suffering, pain and death phobia, and felt it in her own life. She is the author of Love Your Life to Death.

To those who want to live well…and die well.

What if we planned our lives well instead of just going through the motions? What if we planned our end of life—long before a diagnosis, long before we were dying? What if we learned about grief before the grief so that we could be better prepared for it? Imagine…

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