What are PSWs saying about the text, Integrating a Palliative Approach?

Life and Death Matters reached out to a few colleges and hospices using the text, Integrating a Palliative Approach: Essentials for Personal Support Workers, and companion resources in their teaching  and asked permission to survey students about their learning experiences in hospice and palliative care. An online survey was distributed to individuals who used the resources and were completing their practicum, had graduated or had completed a self-study program. The survey results resoundingly endorsed the text, Integrating a Palliative Approach: Essentials for Personal Support Workers, as a positive learning tool for learning to provide hospice, palliative and end-of-life care.

In the survey, students were asked to reflect on their learning experiences and indicate which statements they agreed with. These are some of the results:

  • 80% indicated “I will keep this text and continue to use this in my practice.”
  • 75% indicated  “I know how to support a person experiencing common symptoms of life-limiting illness”
  • 74% indicated “I strengthened my skills for communicating with people experiencing life-limiting illness and their family.”
  • 83% reported “I learned why self-care is important, and how to provide self-care.”

Students self-reported what they had learned from the text and companion resources. The results indicate the percentage of respondants who reported learning each topic from the text and resources.

  • 90% – How to recognize different patterns of dying
  • 88% – Ways to prepare myself for providing hospice and palliative care
  • 86% – Strategies for communicating with a person and family about difficult topics
  • 83% – How to recognize, observe, record and report when a person is experiencing a common symptom, e.g., pain.
  • 83% – The different ways people experience loss and grief, and how to provide appropriate support
  • 88% – The common changes in the last days and hours of life and how to support a dying person and family
  • 86% – How to provide self-care to maintain my personal health when working in hospice and palliative care.


This survey strongly supports teaching hospice, palliative and end-of-life care to PSW students using the text, Integrating a Palliative Approach: Essentials for Personal Support Workers, and companion workbook, podcasts and videos.

There are more results, including the interview of instructors to report. Look for that information in upcoming blog posts.


Today is Advance Care Planning Day and Why it Matters

When someone says, “It was a good death” they may mean that from their personal perspective it was a good death. However, a death is only a “good death” if the person who is/was dying is honoured and their needs, preferences and goals are considered as life circumstances change, disease progresses and care plans are developed. In striving to honour the individual, perhaps then we can talk about a good death, an  appropriate or a person-centered death.

“Three-quarters of Canadians (74%) report having thought about end-of-life.” (1)

But how many of these individuals have talked with people close to them about their preferences? How many have spoken with their health care team and recorded their thoughts? How many have documented Advance Care Plans? If wishes and preferences are not shared and documented, it may be difficult to honour and meet a person’s wishes for an appropriate death.

This is where Advance Care Planning comes in.  Advance Care Planning is one step in helping a person experience a good death, an appropriate, or a person-centered death. Advance Care Planning can greatly assist health care professionals to provide best care, to support each person to live life fully until their last breath, and to honour them following death. In the next decade, Baby Boomers may start benefiting from the integration of a palliative approach in their care. As this large and vocal portion of the population reaches their senior years and deals with life-limiting illness, it is possible that engaging in Advance Care Planning may become as normal as developing birth care plans for expectant parents. 

Today is Advance Care Planning Day. It is your day to discuss what is important to you, what you think you might like when you are sick, when you are declining, and ultimately, when you are dying. This is your time to talk with those who are close to you, to record your thoughts, and share your thoughts with your physician or nurse practitioner. Begin the conversation today and continue to discuss plans as circumstances change.

Whatever your preferences, today is the day to open the door, and set a time to talk with someone who is important to you about your wishes.

The Speak-Up Campaign provides resources to stimulate conversations and guides to help you record thoughts. In the United States, the National Healthcare Decisions Day and the Conversation Project provides resources for making your wishes known. The Life and Death Matters Care Planning Cookies can stimulate conversations.

Go for it.