by Lois Brummet, RN, MSN, CHPCN(c), DVHS Hospice Volunteer
How often have we heard “Be careful what you wish for!” A wish for our governments to provide palliative care to all Canadians who need it, wherever in Canada they may live. Wishes will remain dreams unless we take action. What action, how or when or who? We are reminded to never underestimate the power of ONE.
Since attending an End of Life conference in Kelowna sponsored by the Respiratory and Palliative Care services at KGH in 1993, I have been saying to all who will listen, people with life threatening diseases should be able to access hospice palliative care services at the time of their diagnosis. “Well he/she is not dying at the moment.” This statement suggests that only when physical symptoms and/or pain are evident, a referral to hospice is appropriate. However, all our mentors in the hospice palliative care movement, Dame Cecily Saunders, Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Dr. Balfour Mount, Nurse Clinician Pat Porterfield, Dr. Michael Downing state that humans are more than physical beings. We have a physical, emotional, social and spiritual dimension. At the time of diagnosis or receiving “bad news” our emotional, social and spiritual pieces are hammered with the shocking blows.
How do we survive? Do we pray for cure? Do we rant, angrily accusing someone/ something as being responsible for our predicament?
“I am only one but I am one. I cannot do everything but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” Edward Everett Hale.
Each one of us can do something, there is a long list of actions to pick from such as, praying for the grace to survive and journey through. Attend any number of prayer groups hosting 12 hours of prayer for palliative care May 4, 2017. Say “HELLO”, attend the interactive game to help start conversations about living and dying well. Be sure to ask a family member, a friend, a neighbour to join you for a fun filled lunch for “free”.
Support the fundraising activities of your local hospice society, write letters to the Editor describing the benefits of receiving hospice services via local hospice volunteers.
Expand the power of one to ten. Pledge to talk to ten people about the Advance Care Planning presentations and workshops offered in our communities.
These are just a few ideas; more will come to mind as you ponder your own options. “Be the change you want to see happen.”
Since 1993, I have seen progress. Today we see more articles, educational pieces extolling the benefits, both personal and financial of earlier referrals to hospice services. The Palliative Approach to health care is more evident in community health as well as in facility care. Curriculums for continuing education for Personal Care Aides are developed and readily available. The number of community clients seen by our palliative care nurses is growing. The Bereavement Follow up telephone service is providing much appreciated listening time by our hospice volunteer.
The NCARE program, a well sponsored and supported research study is placing trained hospice volunteers with identified frail seniors living at home. The volunteers will assist the study participants to maneuver through the health care system. Hence, these seniors will be known and their need for hospice palliative care services will not be delayed; an earlier referral will happen.