Communique #9 – Education and Health
National Chairperson of Education and Health Faith Anderson, January 24, 2020
“If the person feels loved, respected, and accepted, the negative shadow of euthanasia disappears…” (Pope Francis, IV Seminar on Ethics in Health Management, 2018).
There is a variety of weather across the country—some good, some not so good. Winter is an excellent time to organize events, letter writing or postcard campaigns, and perhaps look to new initiatives. I invite you to promote involvement of members and councils in the various activities and projects the League offers.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
The National Palliative Care Week for 2020 has not yet been announced; however, the League has developed a palliative care postcard to address the issue of palliative care. Consider using the postcard after masses during National Palliative Care Week, for 12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care day, or by providing them to family and friends to voice their concerns. The postcard can be a campaign at any time during the year. Printing instructions are available on the national website, cwl.ca.
In the article, “Palliative Care Doctors Draw the Line,” Executive Director Sharon Baxter of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association states, “It has become more and more apparent that everybody has universal access to MAiD (medical assistance in dying) across Canada, but there is not universal funding for hospice and palliative care.” Baxter further notes, “…MAiD is 100 per-cent funded and palliative care isn’t.” Dr. Denise Marshall, a palliative care physician, states, “Parliament is rewriting the law to broaden access to assisted suicide and euthanasia at a time when less than 30 per-cent of Canadians have access to palliative and hospice care” (The Catholic Register, December 15, 2019).
The League has taken a position that urges the federal government to identify palliative care as an insured health service covered under the Canada Health Act and to develop a national strategy for uniform standards and delivery of palliative care as defined by the World Health Organization.
The World Health Organization defines palliative care, “as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual. Palliative care: provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms; affirms life and regards dying as a normal process; intends neither to hasten or postpone death; integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care; offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death; offers a support system to help the family cope during the patients illness and in their own bereavement; uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counselling, if indicated; will enhance quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness; is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and includes those investigations needed to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications” (who.int).
Advance Care Planning (ACP) in Canada initiative, led by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association released Living Well, Planning Well: resources to support the legal processes of Advance Care Planning in Canada. The resource kit includes Living Well, Planning Well: An Advance Care Planning Resource for Lawyers, created by Speak Up and two legal firms and can be found at advancecareplanning.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Speak-Up-Legal-Workbook-ENG-1.pdf.
Speak Up and the BC Centre for Palliative Care developed a complementary resource for the public, Living Well, Planning Well: An Advance Care Planning Resource for Accessing Your Rights, which can be found at advancecareplanning.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Speak-Up-Public-Workbook-ENG-1.pdf.
Emergency Response Information Kit (ERIK) The Emergency Response Information Kit was developed in Manitoba because of the unavailability of adequate information in emergencies. The kit includes a health information form with personal information, medical history, allergies, medication, contact information and health card numbers, etc. The completed kit is placed on the fridge door, where emergency personnel entering the home are trained to look for it. ERIK is ideal for seniors, chronically ill persons, those living alone, those with caregivers and those with speech difficulties or communication barriers.
When speaking of “emergency,” provinces reference a crisis such as fire or evacuation. Perhaps research whether kits are available in your province/territory and if unavailable, consider undertaking it as a project.
May Our Lady of Good Counsel be our guide as we strive to bring better hospice and palliative care to all Canadians.
National Chairperson of Education and Health