This is an article worth reading in The Windsor Star on End-of-Life Care. This area is only going to continue to grow as more and more enter the 65+demographic. What is holding health professionals and helping professionals back from bringing this issue to the forefront?
According to Dr. Scott Wooder, President of the Ontario Medical Association, “The most important stat to me is only 20 per cent of Canadians have had a meaningful discussion with their family or substitute decision maker about what care they want to have at the end of their life. We need to improve those numbers significantly.” I could not agree more!
He also said, “This is usually a very emotional discussion. We have to change the cultural around it. All of us are going to die. We need to change the culture so that it’s OK to have this discussion.”
I find the biggest obstacle to end-of-life discussions is professionals are not so willing to go there. It’s like a client or patient bringing up the topic of sex, some professionals are comfortable and others are not to discuss the topic. Both are a part of life and require ongoing discussion. One tends to be a more joyful topic and the other not, but both are also taboo in some sense. This needs to change. More workshops, trainings and education is needed for both professionals and individuals in society. “To be born, one must die.” Death is part of the cycle of life and as one wants to be involved in life so must one be involved in death……we cannot necessarily control the how and when, but we can decide to some extent in what circumstances we want the control should we be diagnosed with a terminal illness or chronic and progressive heath condition that will slowly rob us of our autonomy.
Think perhaps in the context of, ‘If I was diagnosed with a terminal illness and told I had 6 months to live, how would I want to spend that time?’ How would I tell my family, friends and colleagues? Would I want to be kept alive with oxygen and tubes, medication, surgery, in a hospital or hospice OR would I want no treatment and to be at home surrounded by my family and friends?
Discussions are needed by individuals in society, within the medical profession, by helping professionals and between professionals and clients/patients.
Will you be part of this process or will you continue to hide behind discomfort and fear?
By Victoria Brewster, MSW
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