End of life care

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Hub Health, by Sandeep Sodhi

Personal experience, new role lead to change of opinion

I was recently appointed to the Quality End of Life Care Coalition of Canada (QELCCC) to be the pharmacist member representing the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA).

The QELCCC believes all Canadians have the right to quality end-of-life care that allows them to die with dignity, free of pain, surrounded by their loved ones and in the setting of their choice. The coalition believes to achieve quality end-of-life care for all Canadians, there must be a well-funded, sustainable national strategy for palliative and end-of-life care.

At the end of 2013, there were 34 full member organizations committed to achieving the mission and mandate of the coalition (www.qelccc.com). These member organizations included most of the health care professionals you would associate with caring for people with chronic medical conditions and cancer.

While achieving the goals identified in the mandate, the coalition also seeks to improve the quality and consistency of hospice palliative end-of-life care, provide more supports to family caregivers and encourage a discussion and planning for end of life within all families.

My interest in this type of care and work started in the late 1990s when I noticed the trend to have people live their last days at home surrounded by family. At the time, I wasn’t that supportive, as I didn’t understand some of the medications Community Pharmacy was being asked to dispense.  

Pharmacists, like all professionals, have to continuously learn adapt and grow. I truly believed people should die in the hospital where the experts are. But if anyone has experienced the stress of looking after someone in the hospital for an extended period of time, you can quickly see the advantages of having your loved one being cared for in the comfort of their home, with the right supports.

Then my own father chose to die at home. I learned so much more about the process and potential gaps in service. Despite everyone’s best efforts, there were so many things that could have gone wrong and added unnecessary stress to all friends and family involved — and I’m a pharmacist/healthcare provider. I can’t imagine how “lay people” deal with all the aspects of care that need to be considered and coordinated. People are going through enough with a terminal diagnosis of their loved one. They don’t need any hassles from their healthcare providers. Care should be efficient and seamless.

More recently, I took a multi-disciplinary course called LEAP — Learning Essential Approaches to Palliative and End of Life Care. It was presented and facilitated by our local hospice and palliative care teams. So my interest and goals in this important medical and societal issue remains steadfast. Now as a representative on the national coalition, it’s my role and intention to share what I learn with both the public and also my pharmacist colleagues.

On a related note, I will soon be working with the Caregivers Association of Nova Scotia to present some workshops on safe medications for seniors.

Watch for some information on Pharmacists Awareness Month during the month of March.

Sandeep Sodhi, BSc., PhC. is the pharmacist, manager and co-owner of Village Family PharmaChoice in Truro. He can be contacted at (902) 843- RxRx (7979).

Organizations: QELCCC, Life Care Coalition of Canada, CPhA Caregivers Association of Nova Scotia Village Family PharmaChoicein Truro

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