Welcome. My name is Katherine Murray from Life and Death Matters. I’m a hospice care nurse, and I came to hospice nursing, I say, as a child. My first experiences with death that I remember, were a dead rat that we found in my brother’s room, a leaf – beautiful dead leaf that you could just see the vein, there was no flesh left on the leaf. Both of those at different periods I tried to nurse back to life with no success. Later, when I found a dead bird I realized that I wasn’t doing very well in the healing or resurrection department, so we opted for burial. As a teenager, I was fortunate to be raised by my Aunt Frankie, Frances Montgomery. And Frankie was the master family caregiver. If there was somebody who was sick, she was there to take care of them. If there was somebody who was dying, she was there to nurse them. So for the years that I lived with her, we took care of family, and we took care of friends, we took care of more family, and we took care of neighbors and on it went. So by the time I was finished nursing as a young adult, I had cared for a number of people, and had experienced a number of deaths, between family and friends and school community.
Then in the early to mid 80s, we moved to Vancouver Island, and I had the incredible privilege of working with Victoria Hospice for about 20-something years. Loved that experience, and during that time I began teaching home support workers, and. did that through a number of different formats. Evening courses, and two and a half day formats, and in Victoria and around the province, and a little bit across the country, and loved, loved, loved that group of workers and the amazing work that they do.
Then, as a consultant, I was sitting on the committee for the Canadian strategy for cancer control and George Eissler, from the BICI Academic Health Council, was asking these amazing leaders that I sat with. “How do we prepare the workforce for the coming tsunami of dying?” And for a year or so we struggled with that, and lots of different projects came about. And then when the group disbanded, what had been a professional question became a personal quest for me. “How do I know what can I do to help prepare frontline caregivers to care for the dying.” And so this is my story and a few of the resources that we’ll share today have to do with the resources that we have developed that have come out of that. We’ll talk about the role of the personal support worker and the role of the health care team and the amazing work that they do.