Three quarters of British Columbians who die, do so without specialized palliative care such as pain management, social support or advance care planning. That statistic, released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, forms the basis of the Initiative for a Palliative Approach in Nursing: Evidence & Leadership (iPANEL). It’s a project aimed at relieving some of the stresses associated with coming to the end of life.
“There are very few things that are more distressing to nurses than caring for people who are dying and in distress,” said Kelli Stajduhar, associate professor in the University of Victoria School of Nursing and Centre on Aging, co-leader of the initiative. “Nobody in the health system wants to see people in distress when they’re dying.”
IPANEL is for nurses by nurses, intended to promote quality end of life care for any person dying, regardless of diagnoses and whether treatment takes place at home or in a hospital. The initiative began in January and will include several research projects over the next four years, including an upcoming nurses survey and a public education component.
The key focus, Stajduhar says, is identifying these patients who could benefit from a palliative approach, which centres on conversations with patients and their families about patient needs and wishes, comfort measures, cultural or spiritual concerns, as well as provision for death and care after death.
“We hope to open up the space for people in our province to begin talking more openly about what’s coming down the road for them,” she said. “If we could get people actually doing advanced care planning, actually sitting down with their parents or their children and saying these are the kinds of things that I’m thinking about...we’d be so much further along in getting people to have good deaths then we are right now.”
Researchers from health authorities across the province have partnered with the Ministry of Health for iPANEL, funded by an $800,000 Michael Smith B.C. Nursing Research Initiative Team Award.
“This is of importance to everybody. If you haven’t known anyone who’s died you will. That’s a certain thing in life.”