Hospice Society President and Director Discuss Need for Advanced Care Planning

As the Rasouli case is heard in the Supreme Court of Canada this week, some critical questions have surfaced over the debate for quality hospice palliative care versus sustaining life at all costs.

What will I want or need at the end of life? Will I suffer pain and need medication to manage my symptoms?

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How can I let my family & friends know my wishes and preferences for end of life care? What help is available to me? If I am ill, will I be a burden to others? What decisions will I have to make?

Many Canadians are unsure what to expect at the end-of-life.

This uncertainty often leads people to question how they want to die, and whether they should have more control over their dying. In our society, it can lead to a focus on controversial issues, such as those being debated in the Rasouli case.

The Comox Valley Hospice Society believes it’s time to refocus the debate on the right to have high quality hospice palliative care for all Canadians at the end of life.

We only need to look right here at home to see so many services that are not available to those of us who live in the Comox Valley to see that there is a huge need for access to appropriate services.

Hospice palliative care aims to relieve suffering and improve the quality of living and dying.

It strives to help patients and families deal with important physical, psychological, social, spiritual and practical issues, and their associated expectations, needs, hopes and fears as these occur; promote opportunities for meaningful experiences and personal and spiritual growth as they prepare for dying and death; and cope with loss and grief.

Hospice palliative care is most effectively delivered by a team of skilled healthcare providers who are both knowledgeable and skilled in all aspects of hospice palliative care.

Euthanasia, physician assisted dying or assisted suicide are not considered a part of the practice of hospice palliative care.

We also believe that every British Columbian should develop an advance care plan way ahead of being diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.

Advance care planning is not necessarily about creating a document or writing things down, it’s more about having conversations with family, friends, health care professionals, and maybe even financial/legal professionals about your preferences for care.

The most important part of advance care planning is having a conversation with your Substitute Decision Maker, someone who will speak on your behalf and make decisions for you.

To learn more about advance care planning in British Columbia and free resources visit www. seniorsbc/legal/healthdecisions or call the Comox Valley Hospice Society at 250-339-5533.

The Comox Valley Hospice Society believes it is time to shift the focus to the right to high quality hospice palliative care at the end of life. Let’s talk about hospice palliative care first.

Audrey Craig (President) Terri Odeneal (Executive Director) Comox Valley Hospice Society

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