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 or the Facebook page about your top three professional associations, or your thoughts on the benefits of memberships in professional associations.

Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Nurses Group (CHPC NG)


The Nurses Group (a subgroup of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association) is a MUST for all nurses interested in hospice and palliative care in Canada. YOU DO NOT NEED TO work in specialty hospice or palliative care units to benefit from this group! As health care integrates a palliative approach into care, all nurses will need knowledge and skills in hospice and palliative care. In this group you can access a “members only community of practice” site and accrue HPC certification hours. All members can participate in and enhance the collective national voice of HPC nursing, influence policy development, legislation and practice. You can be elected to the CHPCNG board of directors, serve on committees, be nominated for one of two awards that recognize HPC nurse leaders in Canada. I am delighted to serve on this board, and honoured to rub shoulders with great nurses from across Canada.
You can join this group if you are an RN, NP, LPN/RPN, RPN or nursing student in Canada. Membership is April 1st to March 31st.
To join the CHPCA, go to To join the CHPC NG, use this link

Nurse Educators Interest Group – Palliative and End of Life Care (Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN))



CASN interest groups provide nurse educators an opportunity to discuss ideas, exchange information, build research and scholarship capacity, as well as promote quality of a specific area of nursing education, at a national level.

This is an excellent group for educators who have a particular desire to strengthen palliative care education in core curriculum, continuing education, and workplace education.  As with the CHPC NG, this group provides members with the opportunity to connect, dialogue, share resources, build capacity, exchange ideas to strengthen palliative care in Canada, and to contribute to national dialogue. This group meets four times a year via teleconference. For more information and to join this group,

Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association

In the United States, this is a strong group, and like the Canadian group, provides members with the opportunities to network, contribute to national discussion, participate in annual conferences, build community of practice, and grow in the profession. There are a variety of special interest groups, and opportunity for certification, fellowships, scholarships… and more! An interesting sidenote: the CEO of HPNA is Sally Welsh, who is very active on Twitter. She can  link you with discussion on many current issues. For more information on this group, use this link


I invite you to consider membership in these organizations! Are there organizations that are your “must have” memberships? Let us know in a comment.

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

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

However… the quality of the informal assessments and reporting varied, wherein HCWs who felt their work was valued, felt part of the team, and had positive relationships with team members felt more motivated to complete informal assessments and provided regular thorough reports.

It is a small leap to suggest that valuing an HCW’s caregiving, input and contribution to the team may, in fact, enhance the care provided by the whole team.  That’s something to consider!

I am hearing the same message as I interview hospice aides in the USA in preparation for an NHPCO webinar series that is designed specifically for hospice aides. Time after time the hospice aides1 have shared stories of gathering information, reporting to the nurse, and how the nurse responded to their concerns, phoned the doctor, increased medications when needed. These actions support and value the work of the hospice aide.  Simple actions such as returning phone calls from hospice aides, listening to their reports, and acting on the report, making visits when necessary, and providing a listening ear were other examples that helped hospice aides feel valued.

Working as a team and validating the hospice aide as a valued member of that team helps the team to provide better care.


  1. Known by a variety of titles such as Personal Support Workers, or Health Care Aides, Health Care Workers in Canada, and Nurses Aides, Hospice Aides, Medical Assistants, Patient Care Technicians in the USA