Sharing gifts

Sunrise at Island View Beach
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 preparing for December celebrations, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule (winter solstice) and Kwanzaa, in ways that honour the celebration but also follow the COVID restrictions. This year’s festivities will be quite different and will be coloured by the losses of not being able to gather with family and friends to celebrate, and the losses of our loved ones in the past year. Together we can get through this. In the words of Dr. Bonnie Henry, be kind, be calm, be safe.

We wish you and your loved ones peace and good health through the holiday season and in the new year.

Sharing Gifts

In keeping with the season, I would like to share some of the good experiences that came my way this year and to offer you these following resources.

Grief and Bereavement Resources

If you or someone you know is finding the holidays difficult, or more difficult this year, know that there is support for you. In BC, we are fortunate to have the BC Bereavement Helpline. Each province has their own resources – find them using the search terms “grief support [your province].

Working with FNHA to Support Family After Sudden Death

We know it is difficult when a loved one dies and that it is a more difficult experience for the family when the person’s death is sudden. Working with First Nation Health Authority in BC, I was honoured to develop webinars for nurses and health care assistants as they support people in their end-of-life journey.

   Using the Wellness Wheel to Learn About the End-of-Life Journey

In collaboration with Darien Thira, and in response to the opioid crisis, we offer and will offer the following webinars.

   Colonization and Sudden Death: First Response and Critical Incident Checklist

   Trauma Braid and a Three Step Approach to Support Family and Community Wellness (December 9, 2021)

   Walking Four Traditional Cultural Pathways of Health Grieving with the Bereaved (January 13,2021)

You are invited to listen to any or all these webinars from this website. We thank FNHA and Darien for making these wonderful presentations available.

NEW Online Program for PSWs/HCAs

Canadian Palliative Care Education Program for Personal Support Workers – Online Program

We have launched an exciting new education option for Health Care Assistants / Personal Support Workers, to  support HCAs/PSWs to build skills to feel confident and competent when supporting people to live and to die. The pilot class began this week with more than fifty HCAs and community members from across British Columbia.

Contact us if you are interested and want to know more!

Supporting HCAs During COVID and Beyond

This project’s goal was to support Health Care Assistants (HCAs, also known as Personal Support Workers) across BC dealing with COVID stresses. I was honoured to work with the BC Centre for Palliative Care (BCCPC), where we met with HCAs, heard their fears and concerns, as well as a few of their stories of caring during COVID. The result was a series of interactive webinars titled, “Kitchen Table Chats with Kath and Misha” with presentations by either Misha Butot or myself, followed with time for HCAs to talk about their work and stresses of caring during COVID. I invite you to listen to the webinar recordings on the following topics:

  • Social Connection in a Time of Physical Distancing
  • Adapting Rituals of Grief for Growth
  • Self Reflection to Support Grief for Growth
  • Fear and Anxiety – Caring for People During COVID.

Stories of the Heart

From the HCA stories described above, Kathleen Yue from BCCPC produced a video titled, “Stories of the Heart.” The stories are a celebration of the work of HCAs, and are inspiring and educational. The full video as well as short clips of less than 30 seconds are available.

Preparing PSWs to Meet the Challenges Identified in the Ontario LTC Report

This is an important report with information that can help all health care providers and decisions makers to prepare for the coming years. This key paper from the Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care, published in July 2020, reports on staffing in long term care. Their report identified the multiple challenges experienced daily by PSWs and indicated that one reason for staffing shortages was the high rate of PSWs leaving their careers. Significant recommendations included ways to help support and retain PSWs in the workforce, including the need to integrate PSWs as full members of the health care team.

We were excited by this report because it echos the challenges we have heard from PSWs/HCAs across the country over the past years. If was a great coincidence that the new PSW text, which identifies ways for PSWs to meet the challenges identified in the Ontario report, was released the same month!

I hope you and your colleagues will read the report or the executive summary, as a way to stimulate conversations on how to prepare, engage and retain PSWs/HCAs in the workforce.

NEW Textbook and Workbook for PSWs/HCAs

Second Edition, Integrating a Palliative Approach: Essentials for Personal Support Workers


The biggest accomplishment for LDM this year was the launch of the Second edition of the PSW text, Integrating a Palliative Approach: Essentials for Personal Support Workers. This new edition includes new content to help PSWs/HCAs and their educators to address current issues in health care. You can watch the launch video that highlights the new features in the text and companion resources.

The text, workbook and Instructor resources were updated, including new teaching decks (Powerpoints). Plus all resources are available online in the virtual classroom.

If you’re looking for excellent readable options for teaching palliative care, then take a close look at these!

Free Resources: Managing Difficult Breathing Related to COVID
Videos on dyspnea

One of the common symptoms experienced by people with COVID is difficulty breathing. We offered and continue to offer videos and textbook excerpts on how to support a person experiencing breathlessness related to COVID free to the community. These videos may be of interest to HCAs/PSWs/ other health care providers and family members.

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 some of the challenges. What stood out me was his emphasis on the value of team.

A big thank you to the PSW’s who stayed for the closing plenary. I know you were tired after attending for the entire day. I appreciate being able to tribute you and reflect on my learnings in HPC.

Next was the OCSA Annual Conference on October 22nd and 23rd.  Harry van Bommel, M.Ad.Ed., CTDP, spoke on Putting the ‘Care’ Back into Healthcare. Mr. van Bommel has developed resources to help people navigate and negotiate the system and these resources can be used and adapted to people’s local areas. He is as warm and as kind as when I met him in 1992 after the CHPCA conference in Winnipeg (my first HPC conference). I had the pleasure of meeting with Kathy Duncan from PalCare Network.  They have regular courses they offer in Newmarket, ON and an extensive library of palliative care books, manuals and journals available for loan. They also have a special conference coming up in March 2015 for PSW’s and community members that sounds fabulous, so if you’re in that area you may want to contact them to find out more information.

In the morning I met a beautiful woman named Jenny from Thunder Bay. She spoke about her work with such joy. Then she talked of the challenges and violence that has been happening in her community.  Within an hour she came to our table and told us about the shootings f the soldier in Ottawa.

As the day progressed and the story unfolded, my heart went out to those who mourn the death of Nathan. And along with other Canadians I share the collective sorrow that comes with witnessing violence born in mental illness.

Next up is Niagara Falls, Ottawa and then the OLTCA Fall Symposium in Markham which we’re really looking forward to.

 

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 thrilled. By the middle of October it should be up on Amazon and available to order.  Thanks to all who have participated, shared stories, contributed to the research, provided your expert opinions!

It is incredible to see the beautiful illustrations by Joanne Thomson. In this illustration, the comfort basket shows a few of the comfort measures that a personal care provider can use to help people feel more comfortable.

Basket of Comfort Measures.jpg

My basket of comfort measures

What are your favorite things to put into your comfort basket? What are you hoping will be in a comfort basket when you are dying?

Next week I head to Montreal for the International Congress on Care of the Terminally Ill. I am so looking forward to rubbing shoulders with health care professionals from around the world, and being taught by some of the greatest practitioners and researchers. If you are attending, email me and let’s try and connect.

Warm regards,

Kath