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.


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

Illustration by Joanne Thomson for the new text, "Integrating a Palliative Approach: An Essential Resource for Personal Support Workers" Coming in November 2014

Illustration by Joanne Thomson for the new text, “Integrating a Palliative Approach: An Essential Resource for Personal Support Workers” Coming in November 2014

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 of you that have been SO patient, we invite to view a Digital Preview of Integrating a Palliative Approach: Essential for Personal Support Workers with excerpts from the text.

We’ve had overwhelmingly positive reviews of the new resources from well respected industry leaders and we CAN’T WAIT to share these with you!

“Long term care homes now provide “care for life”, with approximately 20% of their residents dying each year. Personal support workers are a vital part of the long term care team that provides a palliative approach to residents’ care from admission to death. Kath Murray has created an invaluable educational resource for PSWs that addresses their key learning needs for providing residents’ physical comfort and meeting the psychological and social needs of residents and their families. It is exceptionally practical and user friendly, providing practical tools, strategies and concrete examples from experts and front line workers.  There is much needed attention given to managing the emotional impact of palliative caring on the caregivers and engaging in conversations related to end-of-life issues.  In my research that created the Quality Palliative Care in Long Term Care Alliance toolkit to implement the palliative approach in long term care homes, we identified the tremendous need for a resource such as this one for PSW education.  I think it has national relevance and can be used both in pre-service and continuing education for PSWs. I strongly recommend it.”
Mary Lou Kelley, MSW, PhD
Professor, School of Social Work and Northern Ontario School of Medicine
Centre for Education and Research on Aging and Health
Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario.

 “A considerable amount of thought and insight has gone into this courseware. It is superbly designed and touches on all the important areas and competencies for the target audience. Reflection and engagement are embedded in the program to make it an active and worthwhile learning experience“.
José Pereira MBChB, DA, CCFP, MSc(MEd)
Professor and Head of the Division of Palliative Care at University of Ottawa
Medical Chief of the Palliative Care programs at Bruyère Continuing Care and The Ottawa Hospital in Ottawa

“Kath has drawn from her rich experience as a palliative care nurse, educator and leader. As a passionate advocate for compassion, excellence and humanity in end-of-life care, she has taken the theory and principles of palliative care, knowledge of excellent bedside practice and a compassion for both those receiving and giving care, and merged them into this amazing resource bookI wish such a comprehensive resource had been available when I began as a palliative care counsellor. Learning about the integration of the art and science of hospice care would have answered my questions and dispelled many of the myths I brought into the work.”
Wendy Wainwright, MSW, MEd
Co-author Transitions in Dying and Bereavement, Co-editor Medical Care of the Dying


 Stay tuned here, and on our Facebook Page, for updates. Need more information on the resources right now? Email us! We’d love to answer any questions you have.



And the iPAD winnner is……????

Martina Jol, from Hamilton Ontario won the iPAD!!

Martina Jol, in the Canary Islands

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 to talk to a few more instructors and students. Contact us here to arrange for a 15 minute telephone interview.


“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 “end of life care” has become a commonly used term.  While Hospice Palliative Care leaders across the country fail to reach consensus on a definition, many programs use the term to describe a portfolio, a program…. Without a definition, without standards and guidelines, End of Life Care risks becoming End of the Road Care.

Fewer than 25% of dying Canadians receive the services of a specialist HPC team, and even fewer die on a hospice palliative care unit. It is unlikely that hospice palliative care programs will ever be funded to address the needs of the dying across all settings. The majority of Canadians will die with chronic disease(s), in long term, acute and home care settings.  The majority will die with an ambiguous dying trajectory, without a clear period of “dying” until death is imminent and consequently miss the benefits of a hospice palliative care program.

An exciting new research project is underway in BC. “The Initiative for a Palliative Approach in Nursing Evidence and Leadership” (iPANEL)  The goal of iPANEL “is to advance the further integration of the palliative approach into nursing practice in every care setting.” ( )

A palliative approach integrates palliative principles and practices in care for all individuals dying with any life-limiting disease, earlier in the disease process, in all settings.  A palliative approach can be integrated in care by generalists. The challenge is to educate the health care team.  Just as a “palliative approach” is integrated across all settings, and earlier on in disease process… a “palliative approach” should be integrated in educating the entire health care team, earlier in the process.

What does this mean for educators developing core curriculum for PN and HCW students?

LPNs and HCWs care for those living-dying with chronic illness.  The length of stay in most settings is decreasing and the number of deaths in LTC is increasing.  LPNs provide leadership and function very independently in many settings, and HCWs provide an estimated 80% of direct care.

As curriculum writers prepare content for the new BC Provincial Practical Nurse Curriculum Guide, you can begin by ensuring that your students:

  • Recognize that palliative care is not a specialty, is not tied to location, is not limited to the last days and hours, and is not limited to people dying with cancer,
  • Describe ways that a palliative approach can improve care and enrich the living-dying experience of people with life limiting illnesses, in all settings, earlier in the disease process,  and
  • Demonstrate competencies associated with a palliative approach.

Integrate a palliative approach in core curriculum and ensure that your students are prepared to provide best care at end of life. Integrate a palliative approach in core curriculum and help ensure that End of Life Care does not become End of the Road Care!