This is a common question asked by college directors and Instructors. Why do students need these resources?
1. Because every student graduating in health care in the future will provide care for the chronically ill and dying.
Dying has changed. Increasing numbers of people will be living and dying with life-limiting illness in the next decades, due to the aging of the baby boomers. Second, these people are dying at an older age (living longer), and are living their last decade or so with multiple life-limiting illnesses. This means there will be more people declining and requiring care, over a longer period of time before dying. Specialists in hospice and palliative care cannot provide all the care. Instead, every person in health care will be needed to meet the care needs of people dying in the coming years, by integrating a palliative approach to care in their practice.
A scenario of care
A simple scenario is of a person who may need support in the home as they age. This would be provided by a PSW/HCA/NA with the assistance of a community nurse. As the person’s health declines, care hours will increase. If a person desires to stay at home, more care hours will be added. If a person moves to assisted living or residential care, they will be cared for by nurses and PSWs/HCAs/NAs at the facility. The Quality End-of-Life Care Coalition of Canada reports that over the next 10 years professional education will be even more important to meet the caregiving needs of a systems-wide approach to hospice palliative and end-of-life care. Everyone one of these people living and dying with life-limiting illness will need support provided by PSWs/HCAs/NAs and nurses who have the skills and knowledge to integrate a palliative approach into care.
2. Because 80% of students reported keeping the text and using it in their practice.
In a recent survey*, 80% of PSW students indicated they were keeping the text, Integrating a Palliative Approach: Essentials for Personal Support Workers, and using in their practice. In an era when textbooks are resold as soon as exams are over, this is a resounding endorsement of this text by students! This is a resource they value.
3. Because 74% reported*, “I know how to support a person experiencing symptoms of life-limiting illness.”
These are the people that will be ready to meet the care needs of people dying in the coming years because they have learned how to integrate a palliative approach into care and support a person experiencing life-limiting illness.
4. Because communication skills, practical skills, ways of being and self-care are essential PSW/HCA and Nursing competencies.
75% reported*, “I strengthened my skills for communicating with people experiencing life-limiting illness and their family.”
75% reported*, “I learned practical skills, knowledge and ways of being that I will use in my practice.”
83% reported*, ” I learned why self-care is important and how to provide self-care.”
It’s clear that students need to the skills to provide care to people in an aging population. It’s also clear that the resource from Life and Death Matters do prepare students to provide care in the coming decades.
* Survey was administered anonymously, and participation was anonymous.