- Find meaning when caring for the dying – David Irvine, author of “Caring is Everything”, spoke about providing care and supporting his brother Hal, a beloved family physician, from diagnosis through to death. His book contains exquisite reflections, compassionate tributes, and insightful learning about the importance of finding meaning while providing care.
David has spent much of his career in coaching corporate leaders. We are fortunate that his focus is shifting, and he is now looking at the needs of people in the health care field, and how we might be reminded and supported to provide better care while also addressing our own needs.
- Rekindling your spark – Patricia Katz spoke about Mid-Life Malaise. She identified the challenge that many of us feel at times, when all may be well, but we are just not “feeling it.” Patricia reminded us through the activities and presentation, that it is possible create a spark that fans your fires. She divided us into pairs and, using a creative interview process, helped us explore our past and the present. Second, using guided imagery, Patricia helped us look to the future to identify what we might do to rekindle the spark in our own lives. In all, each of us was able to find a spark and learned how to dig for that spark when we needed it.
- Importance of connections and hugs in a legacy – Elizabeth Dougherty shared her reflections, quotes, stories, and an expressive arts project that expands on her concept of the importance of connection, hugs and legacy. Using only a bed sheet, markers and scissors, she created a “hug” that the dying person and family can treasure. She reminded us that tools don’t have to be complicated, technical or expensive. Interested in learning how to create a “hug” Check out this similar presentation on her website.
- “MAiD – Is this a part of hospice palliative care?” Dr. Andrew Mai from Hospice Care Ottawa addressed this topic eloquently. He offered interesting points, shared a few difficult case studies, and then divided us into pairs to debate the reasons for and against providing MAiD within a hospice. There weren’t any easy answers. But maybe that wasn’t the point. It was affirming to experience a controversial and often discordant discussion within this group, without hostility or rancor appearing.
- Supporting children whose loved one is dying – Megan Sloan and Katt Brooks, (Roger Neilson House, a hospice for kids in Ottawa), and I presented, “Games, Cookies and Creativity in Addressing the Need of Kids while Caring for Adults.”
If you are one of the many people who feel less than comfortable in addressing the needs of children while caring for an adult, we created a short follow-up video that may help you with your discomfort. (In Life and Death Matters Facebook, this video was posted on April 23rd).
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.
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.
A bunch of years ago I met with a group of HPC leaders several times over a number of months. Each month George Eisler from the BC Academic Health Counsel, would ask the question, “How do we prepare the workforce for the coming tsunami of dying?” At the end of the series of meetings a project was developed for educating physicians and medical office assistants. As important as that was, I was concerned about the needs of the front line workers, in particular the health care workers and the nurses, who would be providing care for the dying.