Videos

Video Library

Use these videos to build your understanding of hospice and palliative care. Developed for nurses and front line caregivers (personal support workers, health care workers, nurse’s aides and nursing assistants) to enhance your capacity to provide excellent care for the dying person and family.

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Videos are arranged in groups that align with the chapters of the textbooks.

Unprecedented – Common Patterns of Dying

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Applying the Idea of Baggage to Caregiving

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Boundaries and Self-Care | Video

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Packing For a Trip

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The Family Dance

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Principles of Hospice and Palliative Care | Video

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The Language We Use | Video

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What Does “Integrating a Palliative Approach” Mean? | Video

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Dyspnea 1 | Dyspnea – The Experience

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Dyspnea 2 | What is Dyspnea

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Dyspnea 3 | Causes of Dypsnea

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Dyspnea 4 | Assessing a Person Who is Experiencing Dyspnea

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Dyspnea 5 | Strategies for Preventing Episodes of Dyspnea

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Dyspnea 6 | Supporting a Person Who is Experiencing Dyspnea

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Managing Pain 1 | Different Types of Pain

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Managing Pain 2 | Different Types of Medications

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Managing Pain 3 | Principles for Using Opioids

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Managing Pain 4 | Common Side Effects of Opioids

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Managing Pain 5 | Delirium

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Managing Pain 6 | Changing Medication Routes

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Managing Pain 7 | Common Fears About Opioids

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Managing Pain 8 | Nonpharmacological Comfort Measures

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Understanding how to use the Palliative Performance Scale (PPSv2)

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Understanding the Symptom Assessment Framework for PSWs

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Using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS)

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A Good Death, A Bad Death, An Appropriate Death | Video

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“Don’t block the exit” – We need to learn to allow natural death before we legalize assisted dying!

As we listen to the debate about Medically Assisted Dying, and hear the appeal for Physician Assisted Dying, let’s step back a few years and learn from what once was. What would the picture look like if we allowed people to die when their bodies were dying, if we did not prevent death, and if […]

“I don’t have time for this!” – A Compassionate Guide to Caring for Your Parents and Yourself

Guest blog post by Katherine Arnup – life coach, speaker, and a retired Carleton University professor.  Author of the award-winning book Education for Motherhood, a history of advice for mothers, she has pioneered studies on the diversity of family life. In her latest book, “I don’t have time for this!” A Compassionate Guide to Caring for […]

“Don't let “End of Life Care” become “End of Road Care” – Integrate Palliative Education!

End of life care. What does it mean? Does it refer to care in the last days, the last weeks, or the last years? What type of care is provided by an end of life care program? Is it holistic? Patient and family centered? What are the program goals, criteria, expectations? In the past decade […]

“Give so Victoria Hospice can keep giving” Hospice is in need of funds….

In my late twenties we moved to Victoria and I was hired to work with Victoria Hospice. It was at Victoria Hospice that I learned about disease management, symptom management, and the dying process. I learned about being with the dying, about listening and silence, about loss and grief. I learned that some of the […]

“Silence is golden… but duct tape is cheaper”!

One of the things I love about summer is early mornings in the garden and the silence.  The only sounds are the birds, and depending on the weather, the wind and the ocean at a distance. For someone who loves silence… I sure like to talk!  And for one who likes to talk, it is […]

"A most beautiful Canadian film – Still Mine –

A movie recommended by one of our readers – “A most beautiful Canadian film – Still Mine –   a very powerful, extraordinary story of a man who refuses to put his wife who has dementia in a nursing home.  He makes different kind of decisions with such humanity and dignity — Stars Genevieve Bujold […]

"CPR" or "Allow Natural Death" – How the message is presented makes a difference

The words and tone that doctors use, and personal experiences they share affect whether or not people chose CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resusciation) to be performed if/when their loved ones heart stops. In a recent study “Some of the men and women were asked whether they wanted their family member to receive CPR, which had a 10% chance of […]

"Going Home" sung by Libera, as music care

Music, like visual arts, can convey so much meaning. Susan Breiddal sent me this link by the group “Libera” knowing that it would be enjoyed by our community, and serve as an excellent example of music care. “Libera” is a group of 7-13 year old boys who live in south London. The song, “Going home” […]

"How journaling works for me….

To celebrate and launch our new journal – Journaling for Self Care – we invited you to share tips on journaling. Bonnie and Evelyn, thank you very much for sharing your experience on the value of journaling in caregiving, and for your ideas on how to journal. “Journaling helps me be more present in my […]

"If this was a drug, this would be on the front page of every paper in the country."

Palliative care not only not only improves quality of life, but it also extends life. Liz Szabo in US Today provides a nice summary of the research: A study of 151 patients published last summer in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that getting early palliative care — in addition to regular medical treatment — helped people […]

"It Takes a Village" – What are your favorite resources?

I look forward to meeting with family caregivers on Saturday at the “CARE4U 2012” Manitoba Alzheimer Society Conference. My first presentation “It takes a village” will focus on the benefits of integrating a supportive palliative approach in caring for people with dementia.  We will develop a list of resources that caregivers will want to consider […]

"It was the richest period of my life"

Mom died on January 16th, two months and one week after being diagnosed with a terminal cancer.  We often talked of Joanne Lynn’s phrase “the blessing of a thoroughly dismal prognosis”. She referred to that blessing almost daily. Mom described this as being the richest period of her life.  She determined what she would do […]

"It’s not what you do it is how you do it…." Lessons from the Flag Lady

On route to the post office. Road constructions. Stop sign.I pull over to the side, now is as good a time as any to check for messages.A knock on my window, “Love, can you move over further? Cars and trucks are having to swerve to get past you.”“Really? Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize”“No problem love, […]

"Life Before Death….?"

Join us at University of Victoria for the viewing of the film: LIFE BEFORE DEATH – HOW WILL YOU DIE? Thanks  for the invitation to join the panel discussion..Looking forward to it. Details: Life Before Death is a multi-award winning documentary series that asks the fundamental question underpinning our mortality. This beautifully filmed journey takes […]

"Lighten up to Learn" – Lesson from Nepal

Each day is an adventure. What a blessing to go to Bharatpur with Dr Fraser Black, and to witness the effects of the Bharatpur-Hospice Victoria Twinning project.  Greeted at the airport with flowers, warmth, and met Usha, one of our online students. Next day joined the team for rounds.  Met Sabita and Mina (two of […]

"People with Alzheimer Disease need to prepare"

On Saturday I spoke at the MB Care4U conference, a one day conference for caregivers and people with dementia. This was a new experience for me, and quite honestly I was worried that I might offend or upset people with my presentation.   This was interesting, for me, as I am not usually worried about using […]

"Unprecedented!"

Over the past few years I have been developing a presentation titled “Unprecedented! We have never died like this!” This is about the changes in the way many of us are dying (by chronic illness), the challenges of death by chronic illness (e.g. difficulty in prognosticating), the declining number of caregivers, and the coming of […]

"What is life?"

Tonight I read a note from a dear young friend Lindsay Kigueta Borrows. Lindsay is one of those individuals whose intelligence, generousity of spirit, strength and agility, gift for languages (English, Ojibway, Spanish….), beauty and kindness are blanketed and glued together by her compassion, empathy, and willingness to reach out. In her letter Lindsay quoted […]

20th International Conference on Palliative Care

On September 9, 2014 I was lucky enough to be able to attend the 20th International Congress on Palliative Care in Montreal, QC. There were so many fabulous speakers and I wanted to share some of the take-a-ways from the Congress with you. Dr. Tom Hutchinson led the one day pre conference workshop titled “Whole Person Care […]

5 Key “Do Not Miss” Concepts from the HPCO, SLPNA and CLPNA Conferences

Find meaning when caring for the dying – David Irvine, author of “Caring is Everything”, spoke about providing care and supporting his brother Hal, a beloved family physician, from diagnosis through to death. His book contains exquisite reflections, compassionate tributes, and insightful learning about the importance of finding meaning while providing care. David has spent […]

A family pet cemetery in the front yard

Walking in the town of Barnwell Alberta a few weeks ago I saw this family pet cemetery.  The messages are clear: “we love our pets, we will remember and honour them, kids matter, their feelings matter, and we can help them honour those they miss”.  I wondered “Who are these parents, what experiences brought them […]

A few highlights from the CHPCA conference

A few highlights of the CHPCA conference in Ottawa….. 1. Rubbing shoulders with colleagues from across the country.. 2. Co-presenting “Food the Four letter “F” Word in End of Life Care” with Dr. Josh Shadd! It was so much more fun to do this presentation after another editing and deleting of slides, and having Josh […]

A few of my favorite things…

Davindra, a PSW student in Ajax, Ontario, inspired me to write these words to the tune “A few of my favorite things” “People who care give with love in their hearts, Caring for others who soon will depart,… Warm hands and kind hearts just make me sing, These are a few of my favorite things!”

A Good Death, A Bad Death, An Appropriate Death | Video

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A personal note of reflection

NB: This is a personal note, shared in a professional space. Thank you for the notes, emails, thoughts, calls and concern shared since we notified you of the death of our son last month. I was concerned that some newsletter recipients might feel that it was too personal to share, but I am such a [...]

A personal reflection on grief during the pandemic

Submitted by Kassey M. June 2021, reflecting on her grief while working in Long Term Care during COVID Grief is an understandable reaction to loss. It’s the emotional pain you experience when something or someone you care about is taken away from you. It can be excruciatingly painful at times. From shock or fury to disbelief, remorse, […]

A reflection by Maureen Russell

Today I met with a wonderful group of Health Care Assistant students from Capilano University. In preparation for the time together they sent me a list of questions, and I in turn considered the questions and what I might share. I shared with them a reflection written by Maureen Russell, a psychosocial care provider who […]

A walk in the hills, Bhaktapur, Nepal's New Years Day

A wonderful day,… left the guest house at  0600. Wonderful team mates to journey with… Leslie, Corinne and Scott.  thanks much! K

Addressing barriers to providing optimal end-of-life care

Physicians providing care in the community and long term care (LTC) facilities in Alberta, Canada, were interviewed to determine what they perceived as barriers and facilitators to providing optimal end-of-life care.1 Among their concerns, they reported motivational barriers related to families, citing the family’s lack of knowledge about frailty, unrealistic care expectations and expressions of […]

Advance Care Planning – less about tubes and more about talk

Have you seen the cartoon of a couple watching TV and talking about “life supports”. The man says “If I am ever dependent on a machine I want it to be unplugged”. At which point the woman gets up and unplugs the TV! When people discuss living wills and preferences at end of life, the […]

Advance Care Planning Day

Preparedness takes on new meanings depending, among other things, on our daily lives, family circumstances, and global issues… During childrearing years an apparently simple but forever difficult planning decision was “what am I going to cook for dinner”. Before going on an annual “honeymoon” the practical question was “who is going to take care of […]

Advance Care Planning Day – Speak Up!

Advance Care Planning Day in Canada, and National Healthcare Decisions Day in the USA, is quickly approaching. On April 16, 2016, it’s time to speak up – and have discussions with friends and family members about your wishes for end-of-life.     Life and Death Matters created Care Planning Cookies, edible cookies with a message inside, […]

Advocating for the Family of Persons with Dementia

This piece was written by our friend and colleague, Andrea Leatherdale – RN, BScN, Practical Nursing Program Coordinator at Centennial College.   Depending on a long-term care agency’s policies, when a person with dementia enters the end-stage of life, management/administration may seek to transfer care to an alternate level of care (palliative care unit) away from the […]

Alzheimer's the defining disease of the Baby Boomers?

According to a report from the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimers will be the defining disease of the Baby Boomers”.  To get a copy of their report, go to: http://www.alz.org/boomers/ . ”Dementia is most often thought of as a memory disorder, an illness of the aging mind. In its initial stages, that’s true — memory loss is […]

American Cancer Society Awards Its Medal of Honor to a palliative care physician!

Yahooo!  Way to go!  Good choice! Dr. Diane E. Meier, one of the leading figures in the field of palliative medicine, received the Medal of Honor for Cancer Control in recognition of her pioneering leadership of the effort to bring non-hospice palliative care into mainstream medicine. Her work as a researcher, physician, and policy advocate […]

And a time to cry….

  I wrote this reflection on Jan 31 ,2020, a year and a week after our son Geordie died, At this one year mark, I #GIVETHANKS for family, friends and colleagues who supported and encouraged us, buoyed us up, laughed and cried with us, mourned with us, and comforted us. They are all excellent examples […]

And the iPAD winnner is……????

Martina Jol, from Hamilton Ontario won the iPAD!! Martina is an instructor in the Personal Support Worker (PSW) program at  Everest College. Congratulations Martina! Thank you to everyone that completed the survey. The feedback you provided will guide us as we revise the Essentials Resources. Are you interested in completing an interview? We would like […]

Announcing NEW HPC WORKBOOKS for nurses and health care workers

In response to feedback from college instructors and hospice colleagues we fine tuned the “Essential in Hospice Palliative Care Workbook”. We created one workbook specifically for students in the Practical Nurse program, and a second workbook specifically for Health Care Workers. Both workbooks are companions to the “Essentials” manual, and link with the DVDs, teaching […]

Announcing the Educator's Resources

The Educator’s Resources are the direct result of feedback we gathered from Instructors and students over the past year.  The Educators Resources it the go-to resource for how-to-teach, teaching tips, and strategies. We hope this resource will assist you with teaching and ensure that your students are well prepared to provide hospice palliative care. We’ll […]

Annual Party to Celebrate Home Care Workers!

This is the third annual party to pay tribute to Home Care Workers and the fabulous job that they do!!! October 18th, 1-4, Chartwell Ross Place Retirement Residence, 2638 Ross Lane Victoria, BC RSVP – 250.381.8666 Thanks especially to Kathy Ajas, Barb Hopkins and the core planning committee for making this happen yet again! We are delighted to […]

Anorexia and Cachexia in Hospice and Palliative Care

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Applying the Idea of Baggage to Caregiving

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April 16th is Advance Care Planning Day in Canada!

Did you know that TODAY is Advance Care Planning Day in Canada? Did you know that some of the best conversations that we will have in our lives will be about what matters to each of us as individuals, what we value, what we hope for, what we live for…. what  we want, what we […]

Are we preparing our health care professionals to provide excellent care for the dying?

I used to think that all dying people should be registered with a hospice organization, receive Cadillac services, and die supported by the specialty care team. Over the past few years I have been intrigued by the work of Palliative Care Australia (PCA). PCA suggests that the majority of the dying can and will be […]

Are you prepared for an emergency?

Just after the Care4U conference, and just after comparing the need to be prepared for bad weather with the need for people with dementia to be prepared for declining health I saw the following tweet by LTCA of Manitoba. RT @LTCAManitoba: With winter weather coming, are you prepared for an emergency? ow.ly/ePND In this short […]

Are you trapped in the Fix it trap?

  Elizabeth Causton suggests that we are in the “Fix it trap” when we don’t recognize that there is a difference between fixable and unfixable pain, when we believe it is our job to fix everything, and when we have the delusion to think that we can actually do so! But how can we recognize […]

Article – The role of health care support workers in providing palliative and end of life care in the community: a systematic literature review"

This week I was thrilled to find this article. Thought you might be interested in the findings. Article: The role of healthcare support workers in providing palliative and end-of-life care in the community: a systematic literature review. By Herber, Oliver R.; Johnston, Bridget M., published in Health & Social Care in the Community (HEALTH SOC CARE […]

Assessing Pain in Hospice Palliative Care

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Assisted Dying….

Two physicians are diagnosed with a terminal illness.  Both physicians worked at Mt Sinai Hospital. Both physicians discuss dying, death, and their thoughts on Physician Assisted Dying. Dr Donald Low, Canada’s SARS physician. Dr Larry Librach, Palliative Care Physician. Both physicians are articulate, and both have great rationale behind their viewpoints. In the coming years […]

Award goes to Canadian Virtual Hospice

I am a fan of Canadian Virtual Hospice! They provide excellent online resources and respond individually to questions from patients, caregivers, and professionals.Last month the website was “recognized as “exceptional” by an international panel of judges at an awards ceremony in Boston, Massachusetts. The site, received a silver award in the website category from the […]

Basket of Comfort Measures

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BC Government annouces their End of Life Care Plan….

The End of Life Care Plan is intended as a guide for health care providers to plan and  meet the needs of the dying, their families and caregivers. IN addition to the plan, financial support was provided to a number of hospices in the lower mainland and money was committed to the development of a […]

BC Hospice Palliative Care Association Conference

Hi all, The annual BCHPCA conference is May 12th and 13th adjacent to the Vancouver airport. (Fly in and take a free shuttle to the hotel!) This is a great opportunity to come together, share, laugh, learn and replenish. Day one Keynote addresses by two phenomenal presenters…. Elizabeth Causton: Changing the way we work – […]

BCHPCA conference – it’s right on track!

Plans are moving along so well for the annual BCHPCA conference in Surrey BC on May 14-15, 2010. The theme is “Raising the Torch: Expanding the Vision”. Keynote speakers are all individuals who are committed to their area of work and are thrilled to be invited to speak… more to come on that. FYI, the […]

BCHPCA conference, May 2010, Vancouver/Surrey BC

Hi all, I am excited to announce the upcoming BCHPCA conference in Vancouver BC. Several years ago I attended the International Congress on the Care of the Terminally Ill in Montreal. I was greatly influenced as I heard internationally renown speakers address the issues that face people dying with non-cancer diagnosis, the challenges that these […]

Before we talk of Assisted Dying, let's ensure that all dying Canadians can access Hospice Palliative Care!

Robert Cribb’s article in The Star addresses Assisted Dying in a five part series addressing how Canadians are dying. It seems unlikely that the Boomers who fought for “Reproductive Rights” will not succeed at legalizing “Death Rights” including the right to chose “Assisted Dying”. As Canadians participate in this discussion and laws change my greatest […]

Behavioural Changes: The Importance of “Knowing the Person”

This story is shared with us by our colleague Andrea Leatherdale – RN, BScN, Practical Nursing Program Coordinator at Centennial College. In this story, the nurse observes changes in behaviour of one of the residents. The nurse is not able to shake off the concern that something significant is about to happen. The story illustrates […]

Best of both worlds: A Palliative Approach in Dementia Care

Janice Robinson from the Broadmead Lodge and I just finished addressing this topic in a webinar for Alzheimer Society of Canada. Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are by their diagnosis terminal illnesses.  Over the past few years dementia care and hospice palliative care have turned their lens to quality care for people with late stage dementia.  Integrating a […]

Boundaries and Self-Care | Video

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Bridging the apparent gap between the Hospice and the Gerontology worlds

Good morning! I received an email this morning from a dear colleague from Hood College whose goal is to help bridge the apparent gap between the hospice palliative care world and the gerontology world. Kim asked for the names of a few articles, a few leaders who have helped to develop my understanding of gerontology, […]

Call for Abstracts BCHPCA Conference

Hi all, It’s coming! The BCHPCA conference! Exciting update on the British Columbia Hospice Palliative Care Association (BCHPCA) Annual Conference is in Surrey on May 14-15, 2010. The theme will be “Raising the Torch: Expanding the Vision”. Mark your calendars! The call for abstracts is out. Submission deadline is Jan 28, 2010. Information about online […]

Canadian Association of Continuing Care Educators Conference

Annual Conference in Edmonton! I was thrilled to meet up with educators I met two years ago at the conference in Saskatoon, as well as to meet new educators and nurses providing education in the clinical setting in Alberta. The theme of this conference was “Promoting a Culture of Safety”.   Meg Soper RN & comedienne […]

Canadian Association of Practical Nurse Educators – Conference

What was news at CAPNE Conference? We returned Wednesday from PEI where we attended the conference for the Canadian Association of Practical Nurse Educators (CAPNE). We saw the Anne of Green Gables Musical which was superb, and walked the streets and paths of Charlottetown. Eighty CAPNE educators from across Canada came together to discuss education, […]

Canadian Virtual Hospice has done it again….

Last week a colleague showed me a most excellent article by Dr. Mike Harlos about DEHYDRATION. The thorough but easy to read article addresses: what it is, causes, sorting out the symptoms, managing dehydration, what you can do, and what your team can do.Link: http://www.virtualhospice.ca/en_US/Main+Site+Navigation/Home/Topics/Topics/Symptoms/Dehydration.aspx Kath

Care of the Body Following Death

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Care4You conference in Kingston

Last week I attended the Care4You conference in Kingston. Francois Mathieu is Canada’s lead in addressing compassion fatigue. Seated around “my” table were men and women who respond to a variety of crises, work in correction services, a beautiful young woman who brings “camp” to kids in hospital with cancer, a woman who teaches/leads LAUGHTER YOGA (gotta love […]

Caring for the dying is the easy part….

Time and again I have heard people say, “Caring for the dying is the easy part… It is caring for the family that is difficult”. I quote this, not to diminish the importance or the complexity in caring for the dying, or to criticize family and loved ones, but to identify how difficult the experience […]

Celebrating the Hearts and Hands of Health Care Workers

October is the month for several provinces to honour the health care workers across Canada. I like to quote Shakespeare who said that “a rose by any other name still smells as sweet.” and a health care worker, a personal support worker, a health care assistant, by any other name is a fabulous and important […]

Celebrations for Health Care Workers….

They are known by many different names, Personal Support Workers, Health Care Workers, Community Health Workers, Home Support Workers, Resident Care Assistants, and Health Care Assistants. They provide personal care so people can stay at home when they are no longer independent.  They provide 70% of direct care in facilities.  They are skilled at personal […]

CHPCA – Policy Alert re Assisted Suicide – a letter from ED Sharon Baxter

All members of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association received a letter this week from Sharon Baxter, the Executive Director for CHPCA regarding the issues of Assisted Suicide and Dying with Dignity. The letter reads: CHPCA has a Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Task Group that is actively monitoring this issue.  Lately, there has been much […]

CLPNA conference – inspiring

The CLPNA (College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta) conference has just finished in Edmonton. Speakers, sessions included: Healing Nurse-to-Nurse Hostility by Kathleen Bartholomew Power of Storytelling  by Sue Robin – Bird Communication “Do it Well and Make it Fun” by Ron Culberson, a former hospice social worker “Embrace the Leader Within” by Michelle Cederberg […]

CLPNBC conference – Living Excellence in Practice

The CLPNBC conference was held at the Vancouver Italian Cultural Center. The Cultural Center was built on the site of an old dump, built with vision, collaboration, volunteer labour, and lots of determination…. it is an incredible site, providing great place for celebration and education. Fitting to meet there with the LPNs who are growing […]

Collaborative Blog Appeal

As a scientist, writer and educator, I am working to find ways to encourage Forum posts and comments that go past the pithy- ‘nice work dudette!’ and biTe into the meat of the topic. How to get the lurkers out and commenting? I am constantly surprised that in this seemingly anonymous environment that so many […]

College of LPNs of BC conference in Vancouver

The College of LPNs of BC is sponsoring a one day conference on Friday June 10, 2011 at the Italian Cultural Center in Vancouver. Stephanie Staples is the keynote speaker, she will speak on “Life Support for Nurses” and help participants develop a personal wellness plan. Katherine Williams will speak about “Workplace Bullying: Causes, Targets […]

Comedy in the midst of loss – Carol Scibelli

Carol Scibelli is a comedian whose husband died in 2006. Seeing humour provided her with solace, or as she calls it “grief relief”. She is wired to be funny, she presents humor that is honest and knows that laughter can be healing. Her book “Poor Widow Me” may provide some laughter for those looking for […]

Comfort Basket For The Caregiver

In the palliative care books, Integrating a Palliative Approach: Essentials for Personal Support Workers, and Essentials in Hospice and Palliative Care: A Practical Resource for Every Nurse, I use the image of a comfort basket to refer to non-pharmacological (non-medicinal) items that can help promote comfort and provide support when caring for a person who […]

Coming out of hiding!

The last two and a half months I have been retreating… time with siblings from Denmark, Australia and Vancouver, time on the water, time in the water, and a lot of time writing! The new text, “Integrating a Palliative Approach: Essentials for Personal Support Workers” is just about to go to the press. We are […]

Common Myths About Talking with Children about Dying

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Compassionate Communication… Provide family with a list of commonly asked questions

Forbes Hospice recognizes that friends and family often have similar questions.  Their hospice team developed a Question Prompt Sheet (QPS) which they can give to family and friends.  The QPS encourages families to ask questions, helps them to identify what questions they might want to ask, helps stimulate them to think of other questions they […]

Conference Highlights – CSU on Academic Palliative Care Education and Research; California HPCA

At the end of September, I travelled to California for the California State University 2nd Annual National Symposium for Academic Palliative Care Education & Research At this conference I was delighted to co-present with Olga Ehrlich and Raeann Leblanc, on on integrating palliative care in core curriculum in the presentation title “Palliative and End of Life […]

Conference: “Association for Death Education and Counseling” and the “International Conference on Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society”

Our GREAT ONLINE FACILITATOR Jen Wortham enticed me to attend the ADEC and ICGBCS conference in Miami this past week. I am delighted that I followed her lead and attended! The combined conference brought participants from around the globe. My greatest grief was in having to choose between several interesting and exciting workshops for each […]

COVID-19 – living with and facing death

The COVID-19 virus is coming to a home nearby. How near? And how serious? Even if the curve is flattened, the reality is that people will get sick, and people will die. The deaths could include me. That is a reality. This morning my dear colleague Elizabeth Dougherty shared an EXCELLENT article, This Pandemic is […]

COVID-19 resource: Recognizing difficult breathing and strategies for supporting comfort

One of the challenges health care providers are facing with COVID-19 is managing breathlessness or shortness of breath in infected patients. For some caregivers and health care professionals, it may not be logical to consider applying palliative care principles and practices for managing difficult breathing when supporting people with breathlessness due to COVID-19. Know that [...]

Creating a Digital Estate

In our Death and Digital Property: What happens to your online life when you die? blog post we reviewed ways to protect your digital estate and specific online site policies. So what is the best way to prepare your digital assets? 1. Take inventory of how much information you have on your computer and online. Write down […]

Creative Communication – How to play with colors and words to explore grief – what do you think??

I love telling people about “Jen Wortham” our amazing instructor from Manhattan New York!  Jen is an artist, a counselor, and an incredible guide for navigate grief in a safe place. Imagine my surprise when Jen suggested teaching an online course about the art of grieving?!?! “Oh sure”, I replied “teach an art class online…. […]

Crossing Onto Someone Else’s Dance Floor

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Cuidar con compasión: es difícil ser familia

Cuidar con compasión: es difícil ser familia Escrito por Kath Murray  Se ha escuchado decir a las personas involucradas en el cuidado de las personas en vías de morir: Cuidar a la persona moribunda es fácil; lo difícil es cuidar de la familia. El punto a recordar es que las personas responden a la muerte [...]

Day of the Dead… by Dr. Lyn Prashant

I was intending to write about the Mexican Day of the Dead traditions and celebrations… but Lynn at Degriefing beat me to it! Thanks Lyn for a wonderful newsletter, illustrating in words and photos the rich traditions surrounding Day of the Dead. I encourage you to check it out, and to check out Lyn and […]

Death and Digital Property: What happens to your online life when you die?

It’s a question that we should all be asking – what happens to my email and social media accounts after I die? It can be a huge burden for your loved ones to gain access to your online life if you die and have not left a “digital will” or a “will about your digital […]

Death and Dying in the 21st Century… how fascinating!

You may have heard of “midwives” and “birth doulas” but have you heard of “midwives for the dying” or “death doulas”? http://www.agentleguide.com/ You know about home deaths, but have you heard about “home funerals” or “family directed funerals”?  http://homefuneraldirectory.com/ You know about environmental programs to minimize environmental impact, but have you heard about “green burial” […]

Death Education – an argument for death education presented by Kathy Kortes-Miller

Kathy Kortes-Miller from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay presented “Situating Death in Education”. Kathy provides a strong argument for the question “Why include death education in the schools?” Kathy kept the group spell bound and I think she had us all wanting MORE! I was proud to be Canadian just to listen to her. She […]

Death Education Available in Movies too

Movies Can Provide Death Education While looking for Pam Fitzgerald on the web, I came across a brilliant short video about grief, living with death, and our ongoing connections with our loved ones. In this video, clips of two movies, Last Orders (2001) and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005) highlight the wishes of […]

Death in the digital age… "You are dead but you keep popping up"

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog titled,  “You are dead but you keep popping up”.  I mentioned some of the growing concerns about what happens to our “digital life” following death, some of the issues that loved ones experience during bereavement, and how complex this has become. I am curious about an upcoming […]

Death's Midwife – Should this be the title for those who companion Assisted Dying?

I do not prefer the title “Death’s Midwife” to refer to the role of those who  companion or assist with “Planned Death”, AKA Assisted Dying. A professional Midwife specializes in low risk pregnancy, child birth, and postpartum. The term “Death Midwife” suggests a specialty in supporting natural dying, death and bereavement. Though medications may be […]

Dehydration – A Challenging Symptom

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Dehydration and Decreased Fluid Intake at End of Life

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Dementia, Occult and Latent Grief

Sylvia Baago and Marge Dempsey from Niagara Region, Ontario, wrote an article entitled “Occult and Latent Grief” describing the grief of caregivers caring for people with dementia.  This is one of Elizabeth’s favorite articles, and I post the link for ordering it for those who are interested.  http://aja.sagepub.com/content/13/2/84.abstract .  If you can not access the […]

Difference between hospice and palliative care – geographic comparison and suggestion that we benefit from a "GPS" to help us navigate!he terrain!

Dr James Cooper wrote a comparison of Hospice and Palliative Care, providing some good examples of the emphasis in both hospice and palliative care to encourage the dying person to choose the treatment they want.  He closes his summary by comparing hospice and palliative care  to North America and Europe – “The basic primer is […]

Dignity Therapy – Ontario HPC Conference

One of the highlights of attending the Ontario HPC conference in Toronto was hearing Dr. Harvey Chochinov speak. According to his bio listed on the Canadian Virtual Hospice website Dr. Chochinov, “is known around the world for his research into the emotional and psychological needs of dying patients. His work exploring dignity in palliative care […]

Disenfranchised Grief, Chronic Illness and Dementia Part 1

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Disenfranchised Grief, Chronic Illness and Dementia Part 2

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Do it yourself funerals? What do you think?

I have been hearing about Home Funerals.  Thought it was time to do some more research. I found Donna Belk online, and decided to give her a call. Home funerals? Donna Belk is from the big state of Texas.  Donna is not only a Home Funeral Guide, but she offers workshops to educate people to […]

Do it yourself? Care of the Body and a Home Funeral?

I like the idea of caring for the body of my loved ones from the time of death until burial.  I think it would help me to understand that death is final.  I can imagine going to the room where my loved one is lying in the still of the night.  I can imagine sitting […]

Don’t go whistling past the digital graveyard!

Written by Angela Bruce, RN Thanks to Kaylee for directing us to a blog post that reminds us how important it is to get our digital house in order.  On August 10, 2019 she provided the link to this comprehensive guide containing current advice and instructions on how to plan for your digital legacy and […]

Dr Samir Sinha – presented at the Hospice Palliative Care Ontario Conference

With our aging demographics, it is vital that we prepare a health care system to provide the care that will be needed. Ontario politicians suggest that Ontario is the best place to live and the best place to grow old. Dr Samir Sinha presented the Ontario Seniors Strategy at the Hospice Palliative Care Ontario conference last […]

Dr. Bernard Lapointe – Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide

Dr Bernard Lapointe spoke at the CHPCA conference on advocacy.  He used the Quebec experience with Bill C384 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (right to die with dignity) regarding Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide. His presentation was followed by Sharon Baxter, ED for CHPCA. Sharon summarized her key concerns: Before legalizing either procedure, […]

Dr. Dana Cable – an inspiring mentor and professor, and a great leader in thanatology….

I love to tell stories of people…. how they have inspired me, guided me, shared great moments together…. And if I was to share these memories of Dana three months ago, it would have been as easy as that… but today, after his all too sudden death, it feels difficult to sum up my thoughts […]

Dr. Thomas Hadjistavropoulos and the PACSLAC!

Louis Armstrongs singing “What a wonderful world” is truly one of my “favorite things”.Attending a conference and hearing about good tools, validated by good research, and presented in a manner that makes me want to go home and integrate the work in my practice is another one of my “favorite things”. At the Alzheimer Society […]

Dying is hard. Even for Nelson Mandela.

Dying is hard. Even for Nelson Mandela. As I listen to the varied reports about Nelson Mandela’s declining health, I consider the challenges of dying with chronic illness. I consider the challenges of dying in a hospital setting. When people die with chronic illness, they may be on “death’s doorstep” several times before they actually […]

Dyspnea 1 | Dyspnea – The Experience

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Dyspnea 2 | What is Dyspnea

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Dyspnea 3 | Causes of Dypsnea

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Dyspnea 4 | Assessing a Person Who is Experiencing Dyspnea

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Dyspnea 5 | Strategies for Preventing Episodes of Dyspnea

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Dyspnea 6 | Supporting a Person Who is Experiencing Dyspnea

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Education day with NACC, "Care of the Dying Person and their Family: Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care"

Exciting day yesterday.  100 instructors attended the NACC PSW Instructor Development Day session introducing them to the new Module 14.  Imagine my delight at the idea that I introduced them to materials that they will now go back and teach their students.  Wow.  That is great. The education section of the blog will focus on […]

Education tools: Podcast – Introduction to Pain

Using Podcasts in HCW and Nurse’s Classrooms Life and Death Matters provides custom built podcasts that reinforce the learning concepts in the textbooks. Educators can choose to use the podcasts in class, to stimulate discussions and group projects. Podcasts can also be accessed by students and used in flipped classrooms scenarios, to promote independent learning. […]

Educators Corner: A Musical Potluck to Discuss Loss and Grief

Many Health Care students across Canada have immigrated to Canada, leaving behind their country, community, career, kids and families. The opportunity to reflect on these multiple losses in a safe environment can facilitate greater understanding of loss, grief and stimulate discussion on ways to best support one another when grieving. Purpose of the Musical Potluck: […]

Educators, on creating a place for sharing….

In the “Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care” resources we outline many learning activities that require students to participate and share their experiences, beliefs, challenges, and fears about topics related to death, dying, loss and grief. In the program evaluation interviews we invited instructors to share their experiences with the ‘Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care’ resources. […]

Elizabeth Causton: Insights on Compassionate Communication

In Hospice Palliative Care we may face the angst of wondering how to approach a topic with patients and family members.  I asked our dear colleague Elizabeth Causton to share insights to guide our communication. Compassionate Communication – by Elizabeth Causton When difficult conversations are accepted as a natural and inevitable part of our work […]

End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and Hospice Palliative Care (HPC)

Talking about End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) at the NHPCO Conference Hello from Denver, Colorado, the National Hospice Palliative Care Organization Conference, and the pre-conference seminar titled “Hospice and Palliative Care for Dialysis Patients: Past Successes and Remaining Challenges” Seminar sponsored by Mid-Atlantic Renal Coalition and the National End of Life Coalition. Presenters included nephrologists […]

Excellent teachers… Wendy Kurchak is a fine example

Wendy Kurchak just finished facilitating LDM online course “Walking and Talking with Kids about Death and Dying”.  As I followed the course, I was reminded of Parker Palmer’s inspiring book “The Courage to Teach” (A must read for all educators).He suggests that the role of the teacher is to connect, connect with the students, connect […]

Exciting project proposal – Music Care Conference with Room 217

Hi all, Music is an intricate part of life passage and has tremendous therapeutic value. There is such a need for us as caregivers to learn how to use music as part of caregiving. Room 217 Foundation (led by Bev Foster) has submitted an idea to the Aviva Community Fund contest called “Music Care Conference.” […]

Family History

I could not resist talking about my great grandmother. “Granny” a.k.a. Katherine MacDonnell lived until she was nearly 102 years old. She was feisty, determined and wonderful. As a teenager I cared for her while I worked in a small “rest home” caring for six other elderly persons. I prepared meals, made beds, did laundry […]

Fatigue, Burnout, Resilience – Why am I feeling this way?

Listen to the recording of this session presented by Michelle O’Rourke By Michelle O’Rourke Living and working through the pandemic has affected us deeply, and often we can’t quite put our finger on why we are not feeling like we used to.  For the most part, this ‘heaviness’ we feel at times is an accumulation […]

Food the Four Letter Word in End of Life Care – presentation at Tigh Na Mara Resort October 29 2011

I am looking forward to meeting with the Vancouver Island Hospice Societies on Saturday at Tigh Na Mara resort in Parksville. Attached is the handout for those who are attending the session titled “Food the Four Letter Word in End of Life Care”.  We will discuss anorexia and cachexia, current research, and resources for sharing […]

Free education for PSWs, but at what cost?

The Ontario government plans to train 6000 to 8,000 new PSWs by December 2021, offering free tuition, textbooks and a paid practicum. Given the devastating effects of COVID in Ontario LTC facilities it is so important to increase the numbers of PSWs in each home. But will increasing the pool of available PSWs actually translate into improved […]

From Bonavista to Vancouver Island…. this land was made for you and me!

How I remember singing the song, “This land is your land, this land is my land, from Bonavista to Vancouver Island, from the Arctic Circle to the Great Lake Waters, this land was made for you and me. Yesterday we stood on the rocks at Cape Bonavista. Wow.  It was beautiful.  The sun was shining.  […]

From Loss to Life – New Canadian bereavement resource

Cynthia Mitchell has launched her new website “From Loss to Life” at Fromlosstolife.com It appears that she will provide counselling for individuals and groups who have experienced a variety of losses, workshops on death education, and funeral/memorial services. The site offers: a blog, practical suggestions for people who are grieving, and a place for upcoming […]

From Niagara Falls – giving thanks to HCWs!

No better place to give thanks for the incredible and invaluable contribution of Health Care Workers! Thanks to HCWs from Niagara Falls October 2012 October was the month to celebrate their invaluable contributions! In Vancouver the  BC Home Support Summit was a great success. In Edmonton Edna Harrington and her team held their annual one […]

Giving advice can feel sooo good, but may not be helpful

Giving advice is such a common response when someone presents a problem or appears to be in distress. Giving advice when someone is asking a practical question like “how do you empty a catheter bag” is appropriate. Giving advice is usually the result of good intentions and a strong desire to ‘fix’ whatever seems to […]

Good Psychosocial Care: A Wholistic Approach

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Good Psychosocial Care: The Fix-It Trap

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Great news from Niagara Falls….

The NACC has just updated their Personal Support Worker Program with the launch of a revised module on caring for the dying! Last year the “Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care” manual and companion resources were approved by the National Association of Career Colleges for their Personal Support Worker education program. Earlier this year I was […]

Green Burial – "How green is green?"

When I ask a Funeral Director about Green Burial I am usually asked “How GREEN is GREEN?”  I took this question to Erik Lees of Lees and Associates,. Erik is a landscape architect who specializes in Cemeteries and in Green Burial. Erik shared a slide (see image) depicting “different shades of green”.  From least difficult, […]

Green Burials

Guest blog post by Susan Benesch – owner, and licensed funeral director, of Earth’s Option Cremation & Burial Services in Victoria, BC. Earth’s Option offers celebrations of life, funeral services, burial services, cremation services and specialize in green burials. They also provide a list of grief support resources and a pre-planning checklist on their website.   Green […]

Grief and Loss | Death is a Series of Losses

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Grief during COVID

In an article titled, “There is no vaccine for grief” Maxine Rattner and Marney Thompson write, “While grief itself isn’t a mental-health condition, unsupported grief can turn into one, such as depression and suicidal thinking. And due to the circumstances of COVID, the risk is far higher that grief won’t be supported.”    Andrea Warnick, an educator, […]

Guest post from Bev Foster with Room 217

Musings from Bev Foster, Room 217 There is something extraordinary about the capacity music has to enhance, even transform situations, relationships, well-being, neural circuitry and quality of life. Music has the capacity to meet us where we’re at, influence our mood, trigger memories and give us pleasure, provide comfort and strengthen hope. The themes of […]

Haiti – There are no words ….

Together with the rest of humanity, we share the sorrow of the people of Haiti and their loved ones wherever they are. Over the past weeks I have reflected on this tragedy from the perspective of a thanatologist, a hospice nurse, a mom, and a neighbour. Each of these perspectives brings me new thoughts, new […]

Harmony: Dementia Care and Hospice Palliative Care

In June of 2006 Fiona Sudbury the Director of Care at Broadmead Lodge in Victoria asked me to help them prepare a course on “Dying with Dementia”. I remember well saying to Fiona that the gerontology community, the hospice palliative care community, and I personally were not ready to write that course. After a few […]

Having "the" talk

I have heard it said that “Life is terminal – and it is sexually transmitted!  I do believe there is wisdom in the statement “Death education left to the death bed is as inappropriate as sex education left to the marital bed”. So, if death is universal and if we need to prepare… the big […]

Health Care Workers and Personal Support Workers… let the stories begin

We are honouring Health Care Workers by providing a place to share their stories as well as the stories of people that have worked with health care workers, or have received their care. We invite you to submit your story, starting with one of the phrases below. I love being a Health Care Worker because…. […]

Heaven and Hell of Team

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Heleset Hale Marathon – Raising awareness of suicide prevention

Kelly Paul, a woman from the Tsartlip Band in Brentwood Bay, is running 535 km from the north end of Vancouver Island to Victoria to raise awareness and open dialogue about suicide prevention. Kelly is a leader in her community, the First Nation Education Assistant at Bayside Middle School, a soccer coach, and a sister.  […]

Highlighting Canadian Virtual Hospice

October 20th I am in Winnipeg attending the CHPCA conference. It is a treat to rub shoulders with such a wonderful group of individuals who are so passionate about providing excellent care for the dying. Our booth for Life and Death Matters is located next to Canadian Virtual Hospice (CVH). This is one of “Canada’s […]

Highlights from the BCHPCA Conference and one surprise!

Highlights of the BCHPCA conference Charmaine Crooks, Olympian, was the MC for the awards banquet! Charmaine blessed us with her grace, generousity of spirit, and stories of her family’s experiences with palliative care. To be in her presence was to feel of greatness and humility simultaneously. To be greeted by her was to feel loved. […]

Home palliative care doubles home deaths….

Through meta-analysis, a Cochrane review found that receiving home palliative care doubles the odds of dying at home and that people have less symptom burden. Cochrane reviews are “recognised as providing the highest standard in evidence-based health care”. Receiving in home care, personal care, support for medications, interprofessional team approach, not only supports the dying […]

Hooked – How Did I Get Here?

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Hospice Africa, Hospice Africa Uganda

We are thrilled to have students in our current online course, “Walking and Talking with Kids about Death and Dying” from Nepal, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. One of the participants who wanted to sign up, but is unable to at this point, asked for information on Hospice Africa, and asked that I link her with […]

Hospice and Palliative Care Conference Calendar

Are you attending any of these upcoming hospice, palliative, end of life care conferences? This is our schedule. Let’s meet up and talk!   ABHES Conference in Palm Desert February 22-24, 2017 Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa 44400 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells (Palm Springs), California USA Visit us at the exhibit booth. Take […]

Hospice Cuts and Closures –

Recently I heard that the legendary San Diego Hospice was bankrupt and closing.  Today I read that Perram Hospice (serving the marginalized population) in Toronto is closing, and that the Calgary home care program has cut half of the palliative care nursing jobs.  Wow. Good news is that the San Diego hospice has been purchased […]

Hospice Palliative Care Education – Vancouver, BC

BCCCA Presents “The Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care – A Day for Educators!” Presented by HPC nurse, educator and author Kath Murray Connect with current developments and key concepts in Hospice Palliative Care, Kath’s new resources for teaching Health Care Assistants, and colleagues who share a passion for education. Receive your personal copy of the newly released […]

Hospice Palliative Care Ontario – Annual Conference and BIG NEWS!

The Hospice Association of Ontario and the Ontario Palliative Care Association have merged to form Hospice Palliative Care Ontario! The annual conference provided the opportunity to formalize this union. Rituals of union were integrated with the Gala Dinner. The new charter is available at http://www.ontariopalliativecare.org/pdfs/2011/HAO-OPCA_Integration_Update_Feb_22_2011.pdf The energy of the membership was infectious. The commitment of […]

Hospice Twinning Project between Nanaimo BC and Bhaktapur Nepal –

Inspiring video documentary introducing this twinning project between two hospices… one community is rich in hospice competencies and resources, the other community is rich in caregiving. Ted and I are honoured to be invited to participate in the development of resources to be used in the education of the hospice nurses in Nepal.   http://partnersincompassion.wordpress.com/ Kath

How are green burials different?

One topic that really intrigues me is green burials. The  “Green Burial Council” (North America) defines a green burial as one that furthers legitimate environmental aims such as protecting worker health, reducing carbon emissions, conserving natural resources, and preserving habitat. I figured it was time for a field trip to check out the green burials […]

How Are Loss and Grief with Dementia Different?

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How can we best introduce palliative care to the public?

Next week I am presenting at the Manitoba Alzheimers Conference for Family Caergivers, speaking first about using “supportive care” as part of the “village of caregivers”, and then about “living-dying with dementia”. So my interest was peaked when I saw an article tonight addressing “how we introduce palliative care to people without scaring them away”. […]

How do you infuse love in your organization?

Several years ago I was inspired as I read writings from Stephen Post and Thomas Kitwood defining love in dementia care. “Love within the context of dementia care includes comfort in the original sense of tenderness, closeness, the calming of anxiety and bonding.” (Kitwood, 2003) “Altruistic love involves both a judgement of worth, and a […]

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 […]

How to easily integrate hospice palliative care content into core curriculum

A few weeks ago, I wrote about competencies for nurses, health care workers and health care professionals. Exploring the competencies helps me identify and select appropriate content for teaching. The competencies helped guide me as I wrote the nurses text and the PSW text. Can the competencies also help educators to integrate hospice palliative care […]

HPNA and AAHPM Conference – Feb 16-19, 2011 in VANCOUVER!

I am delighted to announce that the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA) and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) are having their annual assembly/conference in Vancouver BC!!! My home town! (I grew up at the base of the mountains in their brochure!)) BCHPCA and the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians […]

I came to hospice nursing as a child…

I came to hospice nursing as a child. A few of my earliest recollections of death include a dead rat and a lovely transparent leaf. I tried to nurse both back to life with no success. When my siblings and I found a dead bird we decided we were not doing well in the healing […]

I fell in love with Personal Support Workers…

I fell in love… I am not sure when it happened.  But I fell in love with Personal Support Workers.  I fell in love with the workers and with the work that they do. Perhaps it was the stories. “After bathing her, I got her into the clean bed, then I sat, held her hand […]

Ideas for teaching the "Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care"

Ted and I just returned from the OACC conference in Muskoka at the Marriott Hotel on Lake Rosseau.  What a beautiful location, and excellent staff to host this event. I had the wonderful opportunity to get feedback and share ideas on teaching the NACC PSW  Module 14 on Caring for the Dying Person and their […]

Incorporating End of Life Competencies into Education – CHPCA Workshop

The CHPCA gathering begins today in St John’s Newfoundland, with a preconference symposium on Incorporating End of Life Care Competencies into Education, and a discussion of Interprofessional Issues and Challenges.  The competencies developed for undergraduate medical students, social work  students, and students in the BSN program will be presented, followed by a discussion of interprofessional […]

Incorporating Love In Professional Practice

Written by Kath Murray and Misha Butot. This writing was inspired by Misha’s original research and was lovingly edited by Coby Tschanz, Allyson Wightman and Joanne Thomson   Misha Butot was a counselor with 14 years of professional experience when she became curious about how love was a factor or perhaps the essence of quality […]

Information that needs to be shared with patients and families about CPR ….

Yesterday I posted about the importance of understanding words related to Assisted Suicide, CPR, Allow Natural Death, etc.. It is important to remember to share the necessary information BEFORE asking people to make decisions. When information is shared in a way that works for the family, then we can support them to make INFORMED decisions. […]

Inspiration from a 94 year old adventurer!

While working with Mary Kay, a retired teacher/principal with a passion for supporting kids through experiences of loss and grief, I heard more than a few delightful stories of her mom. “My 94 year old mother has just finished a mild chemo/radiation series in London, Ontario. I stayed with her at Thameswood Lodge. My mother […]

Integrating a Palliative Approach: Essentials for Personal Support Workers Coming Soon!

Well we couldn’t be more tickled that the new text, Integrating a Palliative Approach: Essentials for Personal Support Workers, and companion workbook, will be available for purchase in just a couple of weeks! ** Update: The Integrating a Palliative Approach: Essentials for Personal Support Workers text and workbook were released in January 2015 For all […]

Integrating the “Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care” resources

This spring/summer we invited students and instructors to participate in surveys and interviews to evaluate the “Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care” resources. (The focus was on instructors and students in the Personal Support Worker programs.)  Many thanks to everyone who participated by completing surveys and those who also participated in interviews! During the interviews we […]

Interesting facts about Nepal…

Nepal Thanks to the presenters at the INCTR “Expanding Palliative Care in Nepal”  April 7,8, 2012 in Kathmandu for teaching me about Nepal! If any information is incorrect, please comment or email me. Nepal: Population 29.3 million Percent of people with running water 2.8% Unemployment rate 46% Young population – 20 years Median age Gross […]

Interview with Stephanie Staples

Stephanie Staples from “Your Life Unlimited” provided an upbeat, inspiring and practical keynote address titled “Life Support for Nurses – Burnout Prevention that Works!” After the conference Stephanie interviewed the Katherine Williams who spoke on “Bullying in the Workplace” and myself. If you would like to see the video go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHw8IDczq5 Kath

Introducing the new nursing text – and how it came to be

A bunch of years ago I met with a group of HPC leaders several times over a number of months. Each month George Eisler from the BC Academic Health Counsel, would ask the question, “How do we prepare the workforce for the coming tsunami of dying?” At the end of the series of meetings a […]

Introduction to Last Days and Hours, and Drowsiness

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Introduction to Understanding Pain

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iPanel – Conceptual foundations of a palliative approach: a knowledge synthesis

Over the past few years I have cited the iPANEL research (Initiative for a Palliative Approach in Nursing: Evidence and Leadership) as one of the most important research projects in hospice and palliative care today. Today the iPANEL team announced the publication of their latest article – Conceptual foundations of a palliative approach: a knowledge […]

iPANEL research is worth following!

The iPANEL (Initiative for a Palliative Approach in Nursing: Evidence and Leadership) research team led a symposium on integrating a Palliative Approach in nursing education this week in Kelowna.  I was honoured to be invited and thrilled to share airspace with some of my heroes in nursing practice, research and education. Go to the iPANEL […]

Is this the perfect time for you to read, review and reflect on dying and the “what-if” questions?

Daily we learn more about the COVID-19 virus. We hear about outbreaks, number of cases and number of deaths on a global and local level. The topic of death is on the table in a very real way.  Death due to COVID19 is a reality for those who are very frail and vulnerable. People living […]

It Takes A Village….

It takes a village to raise a child, (and my mother added, “It takes a community to care for the dying”). I often think of this quote and celebrate the people who helped me to raise my kids, and those who contribute to the development of hospice and palliative care education resources. This past week […]

Jackie McDonald Received the FIRST Frances Montgomery PSW HPC Scholarship

On Monday I was privileged to award Jackie with the first Frances Montgomery Personal Support Worker, (PSW)Hospice Palliative Care Scholarship at the Hospice Palliative Care Ontario Conference. Thanks to Rick Firth and the team at the HPCO office, we are thrilled to offer this award! This award, we developed, to honor the incredible care provided […]

Japan – holding a space for caring across the miles

A place of silence,a place to hold the sorrow and tragedy of the earthquakes/tsunami in Japan,a place to consider the many who suffer. It is fitting to look for Haiku that might speak of the sorrow, and with someone’s words that are more eloquent than mine, send prayers and thoughts across the miles. Atsujin Earth […]

Jennifer Wortham and Wendy Kurchak…. are Certified Thanatologists!

Hello WORLD! Announcing that Wendy (former student with LDMonline) and Jennifer (LDMonline facilitator) are now CERTIFIED THANATOLOGISTS! They passed the exam that they wrote with the Association for Death Education and Counseling! Wendy says she is going to frame hers and put it in the front entrance way to her home, along with a brief […]

Join us for a "cuppa" while we are in Ontario

Ted and I will be in Ontario Oct 17 – Nov 3.  Join us for a “cuppa” at Hilton Markham Hotel, Oct 21st at 7:30 pm. Space for five people so RSVP. Meet up at one of the following conferences: Personal Support Network of Ontario Conference (Markham) October 22 Ontario Community Support Association Conference (Markham) October 23, 24 Canadian Hospice […]

Journaling for Self-Care

It is a wonderful thing to care for loved ones, family, and friends… As Tia Walker says, “To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors.” “The Inspired Caregiver: Finding Joy While Caring for Those You Love”,   And it is a wonderful thing to be a caregiver by […]

Joy Berger – MusicoftheSoul.com

I met Joy at the ADEC conference in Miami in the late spring.  She is bright, energetic, brainy, AND to top that all off, she sings – and she loves to sing.  Her book, ‘Music of the Soul” links with her website of the same name.  Check out the site if you want to understand […]

Kath’s Conference Highlights – CHPCA 2017

Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Conference  The Canadian Conference followed immediately after the International conference. Jeanne Weis, (CLPNA), Stephanie Buchanan and I delivered our presentation titled,  “From Competencies to Curriculum, Classroom and the Clinical Setting”. It was right near the end of the conference, and I was so grateful to Cheri Purpur, Rose DeAngelais, Carol Banks and […]

Kath’s Conference Highlights – the Public Health Palliative Care International Conference

Public Health Palliative Care International Conference  (PHPCI) This. Is. An. Amazing. Conference. For meeting like-minded health care professionals from around the globe. I was interested in several presentations  where the focus was on politics and policy, and the advocating that can happen at a high level to help support, stimulate, and inspire action from the […]

Kath’s favorite read this month – ""Generalist plus Specialist Palliative Care – creating a more sustainable model of palliative care"

In the essay “Generalist plus Specialist Palliative Care — Creating a More Sustainable Model”  Dr Timothy Quill and Dr Amy Abernethy propose that even though specialist palliative care consultations improve quality of care, reduce costs, and may increase longevity that all practitioners should have a core set of “basic palliative skills”. Examples of core skills […]

Kath's favorite read for April – written by Della Roberts and Gina Gaspard

For most residents, the Long Term Care facility will be their last home.  The average length of stay in many Canadian communities is less than 18 months, in some communities it is as low as 6 momnths. We need to to integrate a palliative approach, offer symptom management, open the door to discuss difficult topics, […]

Keeping Our Compassion Alive – What Works?

by Françoise Mathieu, M.Ed., CCC. Compassion Fatigue Specialist As a compassion fatigue specialist, I have the privilege of travelling across North America each month, meeting helping professionals of all stripes: nurses, social workers, physicians, police officers, lawyers, and a myriad of others who work in high touch situations with individuals with complex needs. Sometimes I’m […]

Ken Doka on Disenfranchised Grief

One of the highlights of the ADEC conference was a half day session with Ken Doka on Disenfranchised Grief. Ken started the session by trying to set us all at ease, encouraged us not to worry about what we have said or done in the past and mentioned an interesting article, “On doing everything right, […]

Key self care strategy – revealing and revealed

While caregiving over the past few months, my sister Barb (the Danish Viking) taught me a self care strategy that she promised would clear my brains and freshen my perspective. Off to the beach we went.  With ice on the ground and towels freezing to the rocks… we went for a swim! And Barb was […]

Kids and Grief | Supporting Grieving Children in Schools

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Lack of communication causes "sudden death"

A few weeks ago I spoke with a friend whose mother had died “suddenly”.  She said that the death was caused by medications.  She shared her grief at her mom’s death, but she talked of another grief, and described it as a total DISTRESS that the mom’s death was caused by medication and that it […]

Last Days and Hours: Breathing

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Last Days and Hours: Confusion and Restlessness

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Last Days and Hours: Decreased Intake

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Last Days and Hours: Skin Colour

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LDMonline – participants from communities across the globe!

I just reviewed the lists of registrants from the online courses that were offered by LDMonline in the past few months. At this moment in time, most course participants live in relatively isolated and small communities across Canada! The other participants live in NEPAL, Australia, USA and Denmark. The nurses from Nepal work with hospice […]

Learning with ELNEC in Hawaii

A few weeks ago, Ted and I had the privilege to be invited to attend the ELNEC 20th Anniversary Summit in Hawaii.  ELNEC, the “End-of Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) was launched in 1999 to improve palliative care. In the past 20 years more than 24,000 nurses have attended one of the ELNEC Train-the-Trainer courses and […]

Leave the NCLEX questions for another day…

This morning I woke early, thinking about a question posted on the HPNA Educators Special Interest Forum. A palliative care nurse had been asked to give a short presentation on palliative care to second semester nursing students. The palliative care nurse outlined an engaging education session and then asked about writing or accessing NCLEX style […]

Lesson to be learned from the Liverpool Care Pathway?

The Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) was developed in Britain in the late 1990s to help ensure the dying receive excellent care no matter where they were dying.   The LCP became the “gold standard” of care for those identified as dying. When a person was identified as dying, the routine orders associated with the LCP […]

Life and Death Matters – and so does Music!

We were driving our ancient VW van through the mountains of central Mexico.  I begged my dear hubby to sing to me, “Please Ted, PLEASE, sing me just one song.” He turns to me, smiles and sings, “Old Faithful, we’ve roamed the range together, when the round up days are over, there’ll be pastures full […]

Life and Loss: A Guide to Help Grieving Children, 3rd Edition

In 2004 I went to Johns Hopkins University to take a course with this mighty 5′ tall woman, Linda Goldman.   The class was full of educators from around the Washington, Baltimore area.  Many had seen deaths on their playgrounds, one student had lost an entire family in the 9/11 attack on the pentagon. I […]

Life before Death Document Series, short and excellent!

Hi all, I am sharing a great documentary series titled “Life before Death”.  Please have a look at them! Dear Kath, I wanted to introduce you to the LIFE Before Death documentary project, a new advocacy initiative broadly about pain control and palliative care around the world. We are currently releasing 50 Short Films (one […]

Life Matters Too: Bev's story of improving life through the use of music

Thanks to Bev Foster for this story “For the last number of years, I’ve done music on Christmas morning at our local long term care home. One year, there was a woman who had been a night club singer – she knew all the riffs. While she couldn’t remember what she had for breakfast, or […]

Life Matters Too!

Interesting article from The Guardian: Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Before you go to the link and read it, write down what you think the top five regrets might be. Were there any surprises for you? Is their list different than yours?  I would be interested in hearing about how your list differed from […]

Life matters too… and so do kids!

Krystal snugging her newborn! Noah jumping in fall leaves. Katie using felt pen for facepainting!

Life Matters Too…. Summer is the pay off for all the hard work the rest of the year!

When the kids were young, we would go to the beach just near our house, on a regular basis after school  As  the kids played in the sand, with the logs and with whoever else was on the beach, I would consider that “Summer is the payoff for the hard work the rest of the […]

Little Stars: A film about Children’s Palliative Care

We were thrilled to have been contacted by our friend Mike Hill, of Moonshine Movies, recently to let us know about his newest project – Little Stars. In the one-hour Little Stars film they have captured surprisingly life-affirming stories of children around the world (8 countries to date in the USA, South Africa, India, Australia, […]

Live longer with palliative care?

A study published last summer in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that patients with non-small-cell lung cancer who received palliative care early after diagnosis had a better quality of life and lived longer than those who received standard care. These patients also received less aggressive care. This research has received much publicity in […]

Loss Grief and Dying with Dementia

Grief is a constant yet hidden companion of dementia – grief experienced by the person living and dying with dementia and grief experience by the caregivers, family and friends. These ongoing losses, some of which are rather ambiguous, may not be recognized or understood by the persons experiencing the many losses or by their community […]

Loss Grief and Dying with Dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are by their diagnosis terminal illnesses. Over the past few years dementia care and hospice palliative care have turned their lens to quality care for people with late stage dementia. Integrating a palliative approach in dementia care can make the world of difference to the experience of those living with […]

Loss Grief and Growth – a resource for teachers supporting students

If you are a Funeral Director (FD) in Ontario, you are required to attend two days of Continuing Education every five years to maintain your license. This year I had the privilege of attending the education sponsored by the Ontario Board of Funeral Services to present the “Loss Grief and Growth” (LGG) education resource. This […]

Loss Grief and Growth Education project is launched!

Can you imagine? That attending the Funeral Services Association of Canada annual conference in Mt. Tremblant, Quebec would be a fabulous and fun event? I somehow did not imagine that a room full of funeral professionals would be so full of laughter, kindness and caring. Perhaps I thought that hospice palliative care events held the […]

Loss Grief and Growth Education Resource launched in Alberta!

On Friday April 29, 2011 at the Alberta Funeral Service Association (AFSA) annual conference, the “Loss Grief and Growth Education Resource (LGG) was launched.(For further information about LGG go to: http://kathmurray.blogspot.com/2010/06/loss-grief-and-growth-education-project.html) The AFSA committee, led by SHeila Van Alstyne, presented the work that they have done to facilitate the implementation by both the Funeral Directors […]

Loss Grief and Growth is on Curriculum Services Canada’s website

It is very exciting to announce that the Loss, Grief, and Growth Resource is available free of charge for download from http://www.curriculum.org/ . Simply go to the site, choose English or French, then choose Classroom Resources, then Supplementary Resources, and then scroll down until you come to Loss, Grief, and Growth. Click on the link, […]

Lost emails!… and my committment to responding to emails

I try to respond to emails within a day or two of receiving them…. This got difficult a few months ago when my computer upgrade resulted in a dozen lost emails, specifically a few emails from people I did not know. Then yesterday, as I was learning a new “smart phone”, I managed to delete […]

Love Your Life to Death

Yvonne Heath is a wife, mother to three amazing children and a nurse since 1988. She has worked in ten different hospitals in Ontario, New York, Louisiana and Texas, and has nursed in the emergency room, long term care, medical and surgical units, intensive care in chemotherapy and hospice. Yvonne has witnessed a great deal […]

Loving learning…. Happy September!

A few years ago I took a few courses at UVIC with the famous Antoinette Oberg.  She enticed us to learn about research through writing, reflection, reading, writing some more…  While there, I wrote a poem that I still cherish, Welcome to the playground… A warm welcome to the UVIC playground where we are free […]

Making Cemeteries Relevant, Part 5: Lees + Associates

The Daily Undertaker is a fascinating e-newsletter with sections that include: Natural and Sustainable Options, Art and Death, Inspiring Services, Memorialization Ideas, Grieving and links to further newsletters, journals, sites, related to death, cemetaries, funerals, rituals etc. In the newsletter Pat McNally writes a series titled :“Making Cemeteries Relevant”. Pat articulates his view of art […]

Making sure that you understand the terms related to Physician Assisted Suicide

The BC Supreme Court decided to eliminate the ban on Physician Assisted Suicide last month. In the aftermath it appears that there is considerable confusion on the definition of Physician Assisted Suicide as well as related terms. I felt it was important for me to provide clarity on some of these issues.  It is essential […]

Makoto Takahashi – Leader in Death Education in Japan’s ADEC

On Saturday morning I had the distinct honour of welcoming Makoto Takahashi and his family to our home! Makoto (Mac) is a leader in death education in Japan. He is very active in the Association of Death Education and Counselling (ADEC) in Japan. Before he retired Mac taught at a very old prestigious private school […]

Managing Pain 1 | Different Types of Pain

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Managing Pain 2 | Different Types of Medications

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Managing Pain 3 | Principles for Using Opioids

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Managing Pain 4 | Common Side Effects of Opioids

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Managing Pain 5 | Delirium

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Managing Pain 6 | Changing Medication Routes

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Managing Pain 7 | Common Fears About Opioids

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Managing Pain 8 | Nonpharmacological Comfort Measures

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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 […]

Medically assisted dying? First ensure universal access to Hospice Palliative Care

Last June the B.C. Supreme Court struck down Canada’s ban on assisted suicide. The federal government launched an appeal. Yesterday Bill 52 was tabled in the Quebec National Assembly to legalize medically assisted dying. This bill would allow a physician who receive the repeated consent of a patient to administer medication with the specific purpose […]

More Moments in Time: a Free Ebook!

Several years ago I found a book titled, More Moments in Time: Images of Exemplary Nursing. The book is by Beth Perry, a nurse from Alberta. The book is based on a study of the beliefs, actions, and interactions of a group of extraordinary palliative care nurses. Full of stories, poetry and wisdom, this book […]

Music Care – Dare I speak?

It is rather funny that me, Kath Murray, dare to address music in caregiving! Kicked out of the grade five choir, (actually I did not even pass the audition), my musical instruments are limited to the radio, cd player and most recently I have taken up the iPOD.  But, truth be told I have sung […]

Music in the classroom… some of my favorites

As much as I lack expertise in integrating music in care at the bedside, I enjoy integrating music in education! Using music and art in teaching can stimulate thinking while simultaneously transcend the thinking and move the learners to feeling, exploration, and new insights. To open the door for discussing the use of music in […]

Music Therapy in Hospice and Palliative Care | Gwen’s Story

Guest blog post by Jennifer Buchanan of JB Music Therapy – a Canadian company based in Calgary, Alberta. “Our mission at JB Music Therapy is to transform lives through excellence in clinical practice and education by bringing music into the foreground. JBMT has been providing music therapy services since 1991. We offer personalized programs for individuals coping with […]

Music Therapy in Hospice and Palliative Care | Your Personal Soundtrack

Guest blog post by Jennifer Buchanan of JB Music Therapy – a Canadian company based in Calgary, Alberta. “Our mission at JB Music Therapy is to transform lives through excellence in clinical practice and education by bringing music into the foreground. JBMT has been providing music therapy services since 1991. We offer personalized programs for individuals coping with […]

Music Therapy in Manitoba

I was thrilled to hear Katy Jacobs at the Care4U conference.  Katy not only talked about music therapy, but she pulled out her guitar and sang to us! I can not imagine a better way to teach or learn about music therapy! Katy Jacobs Music Therapy in Manitoba is a video documentary about music therapy […]

My experiences at the workshop on Advancing Hospice Palliative Care in Nepal

Reflections on hospice palliative care in Nepal

My life with Alzheimer's disease by Gary Quinton

In Nov 2012 I had the privilege of speaking at the Manitoba Alzheimer’s Conference.  I spoke in a large gym.  Tables and chairs were set up throughout the entire space. I was nervous. The conference participants were people with Alzheimers and family caregivers.  I was going to talk about Alzheimer’s Disease as a terminal illness.  […]

My three “must-have” professional association memberships…What are yours?

Memberships in professional associations have helped me to develop as a professional, and a hospice and palliative care provider. Through membership I have experienced opportunities for learning, providing feedback to the community and connecting with colleagues across the continent. These are my three “must-have”  memberships. I also invite you to comment here on the Blog […]

Mystery of When Death Occurs

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Nepal – patients required to bring caregiver with them to hospital

In academia students are often asked to reflect “in practice” and reflect “on practice”.  Sometimes, when I am in the midst of an experience it is difficult to comment on it… it is too close, and words fail me.  While in Nepal, not only was it an incredible experience, and so stimulating to meet such […]

Never in recorded history have human beings died as they will die in this coming century…

Did you know that never in recorded history have human beings died as they will die in this coming century? Death by chronic illness, changing demographics, increased period of time requiring care, decreased caregivers… The good bad and ugly of death and the internet… Death midwives, home funerals, green burial… Baby Boomers are aging! Do […]

New Award for a Compassionate Community Caregiver –

I am deeeelighted to announce, the new: Frances Montgomery Compassionate Communities Caregiver Award (Photo of Frankie and myself in Times Square in New York City a few years ago) Created and Sponsored by Life and Death Matters The Award This award celebrates the immense contributions of the social community in caring for people at end-of-life and […]

New AWARD for Personal Support Worker in Ontario!!!

We are thrilled to announce this new award honoring a PSW committed to Hospice Palliative Care in Ontario. The award is titled: The Frances Montgomery Personal Support Worker award! The award is valued at $1,500 and includes a full registration to the annual Hospice Palliative Care Ontario Conference, a stipend for travel and accommodation, and a one year membership […]

New BC Provincial Practical Nurse Curriculum

Exciting times in BC! There is a NEW Provincial Practical Nurse Curriclum, the program has been extended, and the new Curriculum Guide weaves End of Life Care throughout the program! I am honoured to have been asked to help a team write their new curriculum. The invitation is to develop the End of Life Care […]

New book: Transforming Palliative Care in Nursing Homes The Social Work Role

Kids friendly definitions of words Edited by Mercedes Bern-Klug Many of you have heard me talk about one of my favorite articles, which I consider a seminal paper, “The Ambiguous Dying Syndrome” written by Mercedes Bern-Klug. In this paper she explores the challenges experienced by those who are certainly dying, but their time of death […]

New Competency Profile for Licensed Practical Nurses in Alberta

I am deeeeelighted to share that the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta has launched the 2015 updated Competency Profile for Licensed Practical Nurses! And most exciting for me is the section on Palliative Care! Have a look at the new Competency Profile for Licensed Practical Nurses, in particular (document) pages 142- 146 for […]

New dimensions in palliative care: a palliative approach to …. final illness in older people

Article by Linda J Kristjanson, Christine Toye and Sky Dawson published in 2003, cites the importance of a palliative approach when caring for those with neurodegenerative diseases as well as elderly people dying from diseases other than cancer. “A palliative care approach has much to offer people in the advanced stages of neurodegenerative diseases, as […]

Noah’s Comfort Basket

I have been sick with the flu for the past few days and luckily for me, our five year old grandson Noah decided to be my personal caregiver! Noah brought me water, a cold cloth, bowl of sliced pears, basket with drawing paper, book, warm winter hat, paintings, and hot pads. He rearranged my blankets, […]

Norway Tragedy – reflections

I am not sure where I was when the tragedy occurred in Norway on June 22nd, but I know where I was when I heard about it. Moments etched in my mind – Moments and hours in the dark of the night – a sense of unreality that fellow human beings have the ability to […]

Norway Tragedy – responding to kids

We are in the midst of teaching the course “Walking and Talking with Kids about Death and Dying”. In preparation for the course Wendy (Kurchak) found a short Youtube video interview with Dr. Bob Hilt from from Seattle Children’s Hospital addressing “how to talk to kids about global disasters”. Dr. Hilt provides some key points […]

Nurses – Prepare families for declining condition and death of their loved ones

Is it difficult to raise the topics of death, declining health, and dying, with members of the family and loved ones. You are not alone! However, we need to open the door to these discussions! Families expect that when their loved one is dying, that the health care team will inform them. KM Davidson wrote […]

Nurses Assistants describe signs of dying among older people in a nursing home

In Sweden the Nurses Assistants provide much of the direct care, similar to Personal Support Workers (HCAs, CCAs etc.) in Canada. In this study they were interviewed and shared what they observed in the last days and hours before a person’s death. They identified clear physical changes as well as more subtle changes. Recommendations include: […]

Obama’s health care plan – Reimbursing physicians for discussing end of life treatment

How Obama’s health care might affect advance care planning discussions As a hospice palliative care nurse, I was eager to hear about Obama’s health care plan regarding end of life issues. I was naively surprised to read media reports suggesting Obama was going to bring in “death panels” and “push the elderly to early death.” […]

On being a hospice palliative care nurse AND a daughter…

Last month I wrote about my mom dying.  Mary Hughes (nurse leader extraordinaire) from PEI wrote to say that she wanted to hear my thoughts on being a daughter and a Hospice Palliative Care (HPC) nurse.. how was it easier? in what ways was it harder? I have reflected on this over the past few […]

On dying alone…

Many years ago there was a strong sentiment that people should not die alone, should never die alone. In the last few years, perhaps with the input from Callanan and Kelly’s book “Final Gifts” people started to consider the possibility that sometime the dying person seems to wait until everyone has gone, has left the […]

On food and fluids…

Pat Porterfield, one of Canada’s great hospice palliative care nurses once said that “if 75% of palliative care is about communication, then 75% of the communication is about decreasing intake”. It was interesting to me to watch my mother’s intake change as she was dying.  She had a love for cheese and whipping cream.  She […]

Once upon a time, there were competencies

Once upon a time, competencies were developed for health care providers in palliative and end of life care. There were competencies written for nurses, health care workers (nursing assistants, personal support workers, hospice aides), physicians and social workers, and others. There were competencies developed in many lands, in Ireland and the United States, in Nova […]

One strategy to decrease overtreatment…

A hundred years ago we did not need to worry about this… but when dying in the 21st century, overtreatment is possible, can add to disease burden, can decrease quality of life, and is in fact a concern that we need to address! Article in NY Times by Tara Parker Pope, “Overtreatment is taking its […]

Online Ed on ESRF, "Hospice and Palliative Care for the Dialysis Patients"

Online Resources About End Stage Renal Failure (ESRF) While I am in the mode of suggesting great online resources I want to mention a valuable educational opportunity available through the MidAtlantic Renal Coalition in the states, on ESRF. The Renal Coalition has taken key presentations from the NHPCO preconference seminar that I attended in September […]

Online support group for Canadians affected by cancer

I am on a roll today highlighting Canadian resources. As part of a nation-wide effort to provide high-quality psychosocial care to all Canadians affected by cancer, several of Canada’s leading authorities for psychosocial oncology have partnered to provide counsellor-led online support groups. These online support groups are available to Canadians who have been diagnosed with […]

Online Support Group for Canadians diagnosed with cancer and their families/loved ones

Online Support Group Available For People Diagnosed with Cancer I am writing about another innovative online resource. As part of a nation-wide effort to provide high-quality psycho-social care to all Canadians affected by cancer, several of Canada’s leaders in psycho-social oncology partnered to provide counselor-led online support groups that are: Online support groups available to […]

Opportunities for community work in Nicaragua

In March we went to Nicaragua for two weeks. The first week we stayed at “Monty’s surf camp” on the west coast in Jiquilillo a small fishing town. We soaked in the sun, met the local people and marveled at the community work that Monty is involved in. The camp is owned by Monty (Donald […]

Orientation: The new NACC PSW Module 14 "Care of the Dying….

I was honoured a year ago when the National Association of Career Colleges announced they had approved our resources (Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care) for use in the Personal Support Worker (PSW) program. Earlier this year I was thrilled to collaborate with Linda Von Tettenborn and members of the PSW Advisory Committee to write their […]

Our Role in Maintaining Therapeutic Boundaries

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Packing For a Trip

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Pain Assessment in the Communicatively Impaired person

In another study by Kaasalainen et al (*see reference below) a tool was developed to screen for pain among individuals who are not able to communicate the presence of pain. The tool “Pain Assessment in the Communicatively Impaired” person (PACI) is shown to be reliable and valid.  It can be recommnded for clinical use, and […]

Pain Management and Palliative Care for Mesothelioma Patients

Pain Management and Palliative Care for Mesothelioma Patients  (Guest post by Faith Franz, researcher and writer for The Mesothelioma Center) After attempting to control the growth of a tumor, pain management is one of the most important goals of many cancer treatments. This is especially true for patients with mesothelioma, which is a rare and […]

Palliative Care – a Human Right – so apparent during COVID

Deaths from COVID-19 are approaching 3 million world-wide. Much of the discussion about ethical issues has centered around the availability of ventilators, but little has been said about the need and the responsibility to provide palliative care, ways to integrate a palliative approach for those who are seriously ill, and how to best support those […]

Palliative Social Work – new book

I just got home from the annual assembly of the American Academy of Hospice Palliative Medicine and the Hospice Palliative Nurses Association in Vancouver BC. The Americans received a warm and wet/rainy welcome from the BCHPCA, CHPCA and the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians. Dr. Fraser Black (Victoria Hospice Medical Director) and Wendy Wainwright […]

Part 2: Using Medications to Manage Symptoms

In Part 2, Using Medications to Manage Symptoms, Kath shares caregiving stories based in her experiences of providing care, that illustrate common issues and concerns that may occur when using medications for managing symptoms.  

Patients benefit when caregivers receive support

In a recent article “The Critical Role of Caregivers in Achieving Patient-Centered Care” author Gillick writes: For caregivers (family caregivers) to make patient-centered care a reality for frail elders and those with advanced illness, they will need unprecedented education and assistance. In addition to supporting policies designed to reimburse caregivers for some of their services… […]

Patients may have to push to get registered with the palliative care program

If Palliative Care increases length of life as well as improving quality of life, why do patients have to ask for palliative care? Why don’t physicians and nurses tell patients about palliative care? Why do they struggle to get registered with a palliative care or hospice program? Andrea Warnick, a dear colleague from Toronto writes: […]

Pediatric Hospice Palliative Care in Canada

What is Pediatric Palliative Care “While the number of children requiring palliative care is small relative to adults, the impact of a child’s serious illness and death is extensive. It affects the family as well as the entire community. Moreover, the illnesses that affect children are quite distinct. Palliative care for children must comprehensively address […]

Person Centered Care – the essence of good dementia care

Dementia Care: “Knowing our life and emotional history is for others the key to unlocking who we are, why we feel the way we do and what influences our actions.” (Christene Gordon, Director of Services, Alzheimers Society of Alberta and NWTs.) So simple, but the root of what person centered care is about. Considering that […]

Personal reflection: Medical Assistance in Dying

Today Bill C-14 was presented to parliament. Today the Canadian Government introduced legislation to make medical assistance in dying legal. The facts about the proposed legislation can be found here. People have asked what I think about Medical Assistance in Dying. I have not presented my thoughts openly on this topic, for a number of […]

Personal Support Worker/ Health Care Assistant Week

The BC Home Support Summit was excellent. Over a hundred people attended. The majority were Community Health Workers (CHWs) from Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Northern Health.  As I was leaving early for a flight east, I made my journey around the room before the event started.  Great to meet and greet and hear the stories and […]

Pet Hospice …. What education is available?

Do you know of a hospice for pets? I received an email the other day asking if I knew of education for people providing hospice care for pets. What an incredible question! I know resources exist for pet loss, pet bereavement, pet therapy… but I have not heard of courses/programs addressing hospice for animals. Is […]

Physician Assisted Suicide – CHPCA issues paper

I am including the link to the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care paper that summarizes the issues and discussion for and against PAS. It is meant to inform and encourage discussion of this topic among hospice palliative care providers, as well as the public. It offers a foundation of facts from which its members and others […]

Physician Assisted Suicide – CHPCA statement

THe recent decision by the BC courts to strike down the ban on PAS has brought the topic to the forefront again. The last time I wrote about Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) I was a student and the paper was thirty pages long.  (Bless the prof who had to read it!) The Canadian Hospice Palliative […]

Planning for dying while living in the moment

Early morning discussion “what is important to me when I am dying”

Predeath 101-Why Prepare for Dying?

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Preparing for COVID-19 because it IS personal

The COVID-19 virus is coming to a home nearby. How near? And how serious? Even if the curve is flattened, the reality is that people will get sick, and people will die. The deaths could include me or Ted. That is a reality. This morning my dear colleague Elizabeth Dougherty shared an EXCELLENT article, This […]

Preparing kids for life, not protecting them from death…. Understand more about Kids and Grief

Many years ago I set out to learn more about supporting kids and youth experiencing loss and grief.  I wanted to know more about preparing them to experience life in a healthy way, rather than trying to give a false sense of security by pretending that life is always safe. In my journeys I studied […]

Press Release – Death, Dying, and Grief: Avenues for Healthy Communication Help Children and Adults

BOOTHBAY HARBOR, Maine, June 29, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Blazing new paths in the field of thanatology, Lynne Tobin, Andrea Warnick, and Katherine Murray spearhead distinctive programs for people to think, learn, and communicate about death, dying, and bereavement. Lynne Tobin, a licensed professional counselor (LPC), works extensively with individuals and families during end of life journeys. […]

Principles for Managing Symptoms in Hospice Palliative Care

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Principles of Hospice and Palliative Care | Video

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Principles of Symptom Management

Personal Support Workers (Also Known As Health Care Assistants, Health Care Workers) often care for people who require medication or comfort measures to help control their symptoms. I was asked to explain the principles of symptom management… Here are a few ideas (not in order of priority!) Symptom management requires good care planning! The Canadian […]

Providing Care During COVID

On Monday, Dr David Kenneth Wright spoke during the “FREE WEBINAR SERIES for PSWs about providing care during COVID. I was touched by the stories he shared, by the points that he made, and by the responses/input from those who attended. Near the end of his presentation he said and asked, “COVID-19 has changed so […]

Providing Compassion—It’s Hard to be Family

Written by Kath Murray People who are involved in palliative care often say, “Caring for the dying person is easy. It is caring for the family that is difficult.” Of course, it is easier or simpler to care for an unresponsive person than to care for a group of people who have come together to […]

PSW? HCW? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet!

Shakespeare once wrote “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” Across the years and across the country the name we use to refer to an incredible group of unsung heroes changes. Titles include: Personal Support Worker, Resident Care Assistant, Home Support Worker, Community Health […]

PSWs* identify their top five concerns

In July 2021 we invited PSWs (HCAs/CCAs) to identify their top five concerns. Their response: Preventing compassion fatigue and burnout. Dealing with grief associated with COVID, restrictions, etc.. Finding education in palliative and end-of-life care education and training. Building the skills to be heard and acknowledged as vital members of the team. Working short staffed. […]

Psychosocial support at end of life improves living – but you have to plan to make it happen

Recent research study releases information about  what helps people end their lives as peacefully as possible.  Dr Howard LeWine summarizes: “being at home instead of in the hospital not undergoing chemotherapy or other active cancer treatment not having a feeding tube talking with a chaplain or other minister, and spending time in private religious activity […]

Question for Hospice Nurses and caregivers – What do you think?

This morning I received this question from my favorite Danish cousin. I am wondering whether being a hospice nurse prepares one for the goodbyes and final loss of a parent? What do you think? Kath

Questions about the Liverpool Care Pathway

The Liverpool Care Pathway was developed in the UK to provide people dying outside of hospice access to good symptom management and support in the last days and hours.  According to Wikipedia : The Liverpool Care Pathway was developed by Royal Liverpool University Hospital and Liverpool’s Marie Curie Hospice in the late 1990s, to translate […]

Reflecting on Death: First Nations People

This piece was written by my young friend, Lindsay Borrows. The shortened version is found in Integrating a Palliative Approach: Essentials for Personal Support Workers. – Kath   The Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation is located on the eastern shore of the Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula on Georgian Bay. We have over 2,000 band members, and […]

Reflections and quotes about teaching

Thanks for those who have sent thoughts about teaching! Brenda Firman from Northern Manitoba wrote: The theme of the 1971 Annual Conference of the Canadian Association of Indian and Eskimo Education held in Yellowknife, NWT was What Education – For What.  Jim Was-hee was the key-note speaker. No man [sic] can reveal to you aught, […]

Reflections from Ontario

Ted and I have been travelling for the past week and have packed a lot into a short period of time! We attended the PSNO PSW Conference 2014 in Markham, ON on October 21st. It was wonderful to meet 300+ personal support workers! One PSW, Derek, spoke about his work in hospice palliative care and highlighted […]

Reflections from the Beach in Thailand

Happy New Year to friends and colleagues! Ted and I are in Thailand visiting his brother, sister in law and their granddaughter. We had a week with Art and Aree, enjoying their farming community about five hours north of Bangkok. After seeing and being so impressed with their farming, we left for a small island, south […]

Reflections on “social hibernation”

As the world responds to the COVID-19 virus, as travel and group gatherings are discouraged and conferences are cancelled, Ted and I are hibernating. There could not be a better time for us to be called “closer to home”. We are so grateful that we were able to hold Geordie’s funeral at a time when […]

Reflections on Palliative Care in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) by Siobhan Bell

Palliative Care and ICU Siobhan Bell, RN, BScN, MN When people think about an intensive care unit (ICU), they usually picture the beeping and humming sounds of machines.  They picture nurses, doctors and other health care providers doing a dance that is going to fix or save their loved one.  While in many cases this […]

Reflections on the 4th International Public Health & Palliative Care Conference 2015

In May 2015 I attended the Public Health and Palliative Care conference in Bristol, England. There were approximately 180 people who attended from around the globe. There were many inspiring and innovative ideas for death education and death literacy, and many messages about compassionate communities providing care for the dying. I found the following thoughts quite profound: […]

Refuel… pull out the picnic blanket and enjoy some nature

It is normal that caring for the dying will touch you and change you. As Rachel Naomi Remen says, The expectation that we can be immersed in suffering and loss daily and not be touched by it is as unrealistic as expecting to be able to walk through water without getting wet. Kitchen Table Wisdom, […]

Regrets of the dying…. your thoughts?

Bronnie Ware, a hospice palliative care nurse from Australia, shares what she has heard her patients say.  According to an article in The Guardian “she recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of […]

Remembering Strategies for Safe Opioid Use

Managing pain and dyspnea for people with life limiting illnesses requires safe opioid use. Dyspnea is one of the most common symptom experienced by people with COVID-19, so this is a good time to review safe strategies for using opioids. Opioid misuse can be minimized by using risk assessment tools, contracts for opioid use, and […]

Resource Evaluation

My goal for the “Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care” resources is to develop resources that are user friendly, functional, delicious and digestible, and that increase the students’ competence, confidence and compassion in caring for the dying. How do we know if the resources are what I hope they are?  And how do we improve them […]

Review of decision making following Hurricane Katrina

Last weekend the New York Times published an excellent article by Sheri Fink about the events that transpired at the Memorial Medical Center in the days following Hurricane Katrina. Sheri researched this story since the hurricane four years ago. As I read the 13,000 word article, I understood more clearly the incredible challenges facing doctors, […]

Roadblocks to Communication – Giving Praise

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Roadblocks to Communication: Giving Advice

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Roadblocks to Communication: Giving Reassurance

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Roadblocks to Communication: Using Empathic Listening Lead-ins in HPC

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Sappy movies – Christmas in Conway

True confessions… I can enjoy a good sappy movie (AKA tear jerkers, chick flicks… by any name I am alright with them.) Leanne McKinzey, a PSW instructor at Centennial College recommends Christmas in Conway. This Hallmark special tells the story about someone who is ill, a cranky caregiving husband who decides what the best medicine is […]

Saying Goodbye and sharing memories with a simple online solution

Guest blog post by Maxime T, co-founder of www.remember-me.co website. Remember-me is a simple and safe way to share, preserve and send on personal messages and memories to loved ones once you’re gone. The idea of a web-based service that would give the power to people to communicate a little bit longer than life normally […]

Scenarios in Hospice and Palliative Care with Bob

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Seeking your advice…

I am writing “Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care: A Guide for Personal Support Workers”  (PSWs are also known as Health Care Assistants, Community Health Workers etc.) As many of you who read this blog know… The PSW is often the eyes and ears of the health care team. It is often the PSW who observes a […]

Self Care because LIFE matters too!

Last month when our son Geordie moved home for a few months I did not expect he would have such a positive impact on our health!  Geordie introduced us to a fascinating routine… daily visits to the gym at 0630! Like more than a few others I feared going to the gym,  I preferred fresh […]

Self-Awareness, Baggage and Healthy Boundaries

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Senator Sharon Carstairs – committed to excellent end of life care!

Senator Carstairs is a legend! She has advocated tirelessly for HPC in Canada for years. She spoke at the Hospice Palliative Care Ontario conference yesterday. It was a privilege to hear her speak. I thought that those who were not there, might like to hear a few of her comments. Here are a few of […]

September …..

September… 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 […]

Shari Ulrich – new song – "Making Friends with Gone"

Last Christmas as my mother was dying, her dear friend and West Coast musician Shari Ulrich was experiencing the deaths of several friends.  Shari wrote this incredible song, “Making Friends with Gone” which she sang at my mothers memorial in January. To listen. Making friends with Gone (Yetta) from Shari Ulrich (Most) all the food’s been […]

Sharing gifts

Hello and welcome to December! In the past months, summer and camping came to an end and the 2nd wave of the COVID-19 pandemic flourished. We are being asked to commit once more to physically distancing ourselves from those outside of our households. This is a difficult time that we all share. Globally people are [...]

Sharing Yetta's obituary

Friend and colleagues, I am posting this obituary for my mom who died on Wednesday morning, at her home on Gabriola Island. Thanks for emails and phone messages that have arrived this week. As I am not checking facebook or blogging at this time, please do not hesitate to correspond directly with me. Warm regards, […]

Signs That You are on Someone Else’s Dance Floor

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Special Musical Moments and an upcoming online course

Just ask my kids… if anyone sings to me they have my heart! (and I will feed them dinner.)  I fell in love and married a man who sings, but does not sing solo and does not sing on demand! He did sing to me once though… a love song of sorts… While driving with […]