Our View: End-of-life care needs attention

Fear of death and dying is common in western culture.

Fear of death and dying is common in western culture.

Even the word “died” as a way to describe the act of ceasing life as we know it, has been watered down to more gentle phrases such as passed away, perished or crossed over. Those words indicate our desire to ease a person’s path from life to death.

It’s ironic, then, that in British Columbia we put relatively little money into making a person’s final days and weeks more comfortable.

According to a national health information study, a majority of dying people in this province are not receiving an appropriate level of care, whether it be proper pain management, social support or help with post-mortem planning.

Caring enough to help a dying person have a more peaceful and respectful end of life is least we can do as a society.

It should be noted that dying isn’t reserved for the elderly, as anyone can attest who reads obituary columns or has experienced someone close battling terminal cancer.

Through the program Initiative for a Palliative Approach in Nursing: Evidence and Leadership (iPANEL), B.C. nurses and the University of Victoria Centre for Aging are teaming up to figure out how appropriate end-of-life care can be provided to more people in B.C. no matter where they are.

The provincial health budget is massive and is expected to grow, given our aging population. And some of that budget goes to hospice facilities around the province.

But not everyone wants to die at hospice, where the staff are knowledgeable and compassionate, yet the atmosphere can seem much like a hospital ward.

It’ll be up to the provincial government to determine whether iPANEL’s goal of making end-of-life care more far-reaching deserves more funding. But B.C. residents are worth it.

 

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