The Many Reasons That I Celebrate Front-line Caregivers

“Singers sing, painters paint, and I am a hospice aide and I care.

I love it. It is what I do… It is what I have to do.”

Terry, a hospice aide

October is the month to celebrate personal support workers1 in several provinces in Canada. In the US, the contributions of hospice aides and certified nursing assistants are celebrated in November.

At Life and Death Matters, we join with health care teams and members of the public across North America to celebrate and give thanks to the incredible people who serve in these caregiving roles. I would like to take a few moments to talk about the many reasons to celebrate front-line health care workers.Full Post:   Read More

How Health Care Workers (HCWs) Might Improve Pain Management and Provision of Care for People with Dementia

A recent study showcases the fabulous potential of HCWs to enhance pain management and care provided by the health care team for people with dementia (De Witt Jansen, Brazil, Buchanan et al, 2017). In the study, it was reported that most HCWs regularly completed informal pain assessments, based on deep knowledge of the person gained while providing daily care. The HCWs recognized behaviours and nonverbal cues that differed from the person’s normal behaviour, and interpreted changes as potential indicators of pain. Furthermore, when these HCWs were present for a formal pain assessment by a nurse, the HCWs interpretation of the assessment often differed from that of the nurse, underlining the importance of knowing a person’s norms when interpreting behaviours during an assessment.  These two findings emphasize the key role of front-line caregivers on the health care team, especially when providing care for a person with dementia.Full Post:   Read More

September …..

Illustration by Joanne Thomson


The end of summer, the beginning of a new year (school), and for some… a time when the time felt like it stopped and life changed. My heart and prayers go out to the many people affected by the wild fires, the floods and the other disasters and dangers. As I sit in my beautiful garden, it is difficult to begin to comprehend the devastation, losses, upheaval, transitions, changes, hassles and far reaching consequences. My initial thoughts went to the practical things like shelter and food. Then, after talking with people who were affected, I woke to the practical realities for people who organize and teach in health care worker and nursing programs, the associated practicums and the many students affected. I thought of this image from the PSW text, that shows the practice of providing casseroles for people when they are grieving. I send my thoughts and hopes, and wish I was able to bring a nice warm casserole or a beautiful fresh salad to provide support!Full Post:   Read More

Medical Assistance in Dying – One Year Later

In the year since Bill C-14 passed, legalizing Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID), over 1300 Canadians have exercised their right to die[1] [2]. Depending on your feelings about this topic, this may feel like a large or small number. It terms of total deaths, MAiD accounts for approximately 0.6% of the total number of deaths in Canada.


Percentage of total deaths

Netherlands (2015)3


Belgium (2015)[3]


Canada (2016-2017)


Oregon (2016) [4]


Compelling accounts of people who have requested and received MAiD are freely available online, and in the popular media for people wishing to learn what the process is like, and how family might be affected by the dying person’s decision to end their life. Two examples of such stories are:Full Post:   Read More