What does it take to work in hospice? And a new documentary…

What does it take to work in hospice? And a new documentary…

Life & Death Matters Post

Mark Forsythe host of CBC BC Almanac interviewed Peter Kirk this afternoon.  Peter defined Palliative Care as a philosophy, and how that philosophy of care can be integrated in any setting.  Peter responded to people who called in… and of course, I had to add my piece.

My goal in calling was to highlight what incredible care my mother and our family received on Gabriola Island in January from the surgeon in Nanaimo Dr Carr, to the family physician on the island Dr Bosman, and to the home care nurses who visited a few times a week.

I wanted to comment on a few education resources that help to educate the doctors and nurses in outlying areas, and comment on the need for hospice palliative care to be integrated earlier in disease process for people with ANY life threatening illness, in any setting… but unfortunately, Mark threw me off and asked me something like “What does it take to work in hospice?”  How does ont answer that question at the best of times – and how does one do service to that questions even with time to think and ponder that question?

As I look back, I wish I had answered:

“Mark, to work in hospice you need a good sense of humour and an extra big closet to put your angel wings!

It is funny how some people think that we are angels, and think that what we do is so difficult.  Frankly, I would find it much more difficult to work in a department store or in a bank.

Mark was doing the interview to introduce or announce a new documentary airing on CBC on Saturday night in BC.

“Faces of Palliative Care,” is produced by Patricia Boston,…and Doug Nicolle.

The documentary breaks the myth of palliative care as a place of abandonment and despair. It answers questions like: What exactly is palliative care?  How is it given? Is it a depressing place to be? Where can patients receive palliative care and how is palliative care different from other areas in medicine?

The film answers these questions through the personal stories of people who are suffering with a life threatening illness, including a woman diagnosed with pancreatic cancer who has a short time to live, and an 8-month-old at Canuck Place who has a tumour in his brain that has been growing since birth.

”Many of us who work in the palliative care field see a gap in health education and in society’s awareness around care for people at end of life,” Dr. Boston (the producer) says. “We know that there are many myths and misunderstandings about what it is. So in this film, we wanted to try and answer  some of these questions through the personal stories of  people who are suffering with a life threatening illness, as well as families and caregivers who have generously shared their experiences of palliative care. These actual portrayals of people’s experience convey human truths that complement and perhaps even go beyond what we might read in a book on palliative medicine, in that we see instances of the range of care in various settings, such as hospitals, hospices and patients’ homes.”“Faces of Palliative Care” will be broadcast by the CBC on June 29 at 7 pm in British Columbia, as part of the “Absolutely Vancouver” summer series of documentaries.


I look so forward to the documentary and seeing what Pat and Doug have created, and the insights from these great palliative care leaders, family members and patients.  (I wonder if they will remember to comment on the closet for the angel wings?)

One Response

  1. Hi Nicola,
    Thanks for the posting! They did refer to the documentary as a DVD, so I hope that it will be made public. Let me know if you hear more about it, and I will add to the blog if/when I hear.

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Courtney Murrell is a PSW who works in hospice palliative care.

When she is not at work, she is spending time with her family, going on hikes or writing. Courtney is a lifelong learner and loves to share her passion for writing as a wellness practice.

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