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New workshop provides fresh approach to palliative care

Toronto, June 27, 2014

By Kaylea Forde

Participants listen closely at St. Michael’s first palliative care workshop.
Participants listen closely at St. Michael’s first palliative care workshop.

The first palliative care workshop at St. Michael’s was held last week with the goal of educating more health professionals about end of life care. The workshop, which was developed by the nurse practitioner and staff from the Palliative Care Unit, attracted more than 40 health professionals from a variety of disciplines.

“What we want people to understand is that a person doesn’t cross a line and become palliative,” said Sheila Deans-Buchan, nurse practitioner, Palliative Care Unit. “Patients should be receiving early palliative care throughout the health care journey. It can improve quality and potentially quantity of life.”

Framed around a case study, the workshop received updates on a patient scenario throughout the day and discussed what different team members in palliative care roles would do.

Attendees took away valuable knowledge and skills related to pain and symptom management, effective communication, and current internal and external palliative care options and services.

“It’s hard to find a health professional who hasn’t interacted, in some way, with patients near the end of their lives,” said Deans-Buchan. “That’s why the workshop was important – we need to prepare all our health professionals with the best methods of care for these patients.”

Many interactive teaching techniques were used while creating a roadmap outlining the future of palliative care. For example, music, art, acting and games using iClickers were all a part of the workshop. Artist, Jamie Roy, also created a visual charter on canvas representing topics discussed.

The goal of the workshop was for attendees to take the information they learned back to their colleagues -- showing them how to take care of patients and themselves while working in a hospital environment.

“I want to collaboratively contribute to a positive patient journey; always be there to support each other, whether it’s a patient, family or health care provider,” said Maria Fernandes, a workshop attendee who works in General Internal Medicine. “My group’s vision is to create an aura of self-realization; each of us, want to become comfortable in providing the highest level of comprehensive comfort and care.”

Along with the workshop two registered nurses in General Internal Medicine will be completing a fellowship in palliative care. The RNs will also develop a patient care project to educate their colleagues and help spread knowledge about end of life care.

There will be more workshops in the future, Deans-Buchan said. A date has not been finalized yet.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.