HHS is committed to Quality End-of-Life Care for all patients
Approximately 2000 people die annually at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), most from chronic or progressive diseases where death is foreseeable weeks or months in advance. Although research shows that patients and families want to be engaged in planning for end-of-life, it is often hard for healthcare professionals to engage in these difficult conversations. As a result, some patients aren't given the opportunity to be proactively involved in preparing for death and many die without a clear end-of-life plan recorded.
That is why, last fall, all staff and physicians had the opportunity to learn about a new protocol that puts the wishes, values, goals and best interests of a patient with a life-threatening or life-limiting condition and the needs of the patient's family at the forefront of care.
The Quality End-of-Life Care protocol encourages all members of the care team to ask themselves, "Would I be surprised if this patient died within the next year, even with optimal treatment?" If the answer is 'no', the care team is encouraged to initiate conversations with the patient and family about the patient's end-of-life wishes and document a clear end-of-life plan.
Once in place, this plan ensures that patients receive treatment that is beneficial, and supports a better understanding of the goals of care between family members and the care team.
The protocol aims to help improve end of life care for all of our patients-from neonates to elders.
"This is not an easy discussion for anyone," said Andrea Frolic, Clinical and Organizational Ethicist. "Our hope is that the Quality End-of-Life Care protocol will provide individuals with the tools and encouragement they need to initiate these conversations earlier, when patients have options. Our patients and families deserve the opportunity to participate in crucial decisions about their life's journey."
Helpful Links & Resources
Posters for QEoL
Click here to view poster
Click here to view staff poster
For more information
Ontario's advance care planning guide is available at: http://www.culture.gov.on.ca/seniors/english/programs/advancedcare/
Resources for advance care planning including a workbook for patients from Fraser Health (BC)
"Finding Your Way: Medical Decisions When They Count Most." http://www.chcd.org/docs/fyw_brochure.pdf
Resources for people facing life-limiting illness, their families, and professional caregivers by palliative care physician Dr. Ira Byock:
Hard Choices for Loving People: www.hardchoices.com
"Food and Fluids When Nearing the End of Life." Dr. Elizabeth Latimer, Hamilton Health Sciences - patient education.
Available at www.hhsc.ca
"Making decisions for others: Your role as a Substitute Decision Maker." Hamilton Health Sciences - patient education.
Available at www.hhsc.ca