“It has been a blessing to me to have been able to attend this day. My last 6 weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster, but today has been a healing treat for a weary soul.”
These are the heartfelt words of an AHPCA member describing our Roadshow in Edson this year.
The topic for our 7th Annual Roadshow was “Navigating the Reality of Hospice Palliative Care”, and it was a big success.
For many people, being confronted with decisions about end-of-life care – either for themselves or a loved one – can be a difficult and confusing time.
Our workshops – led by Palliative Care Consultant Dr David Falk – were designed to unpack the reality of having to make these decisions, and to equip our attendees with practical strategies for coping in this new and sometimes bewildering situation.
As Banff Roadshow attendee, Cathy B explains:
“The workshop was guided by Dr. David Falk, an articulate, wise, worldly and compassionate physician and advocate for palliative and end of life care. He created an atmosphere that invited open engagement, self-reflection and the sharing of ideas to nurture competence. He laid down a strong foundation of the key components of hospice palliative care. He shared inspiring clinical examples of how connection with people on social, emotional and spiritual realms can be effective in providing relief from suffering.”
From May to October, we travelled around Alberta, reaching out to AHPCA members from across the province. We had a wonderful workshop in Banff in the peaceful setting of the mountains, followed by two fabulous workshops in warm and sunny Grande Prairie and Red Deer at the height of summer. As the leaves began to turn, we rounded off our Roadshow tour in Edson.
The Roadshow touched on medical aspects, such as pain and suffering, and medication versus non- medical interventions, like massage. There were tips on narrowing down causes of pain and pain control.
We also explored some of the complex questions that are thrown up when hospice palliative care enters the picture. Things like awkward family dynamics, questions about spirituality and spiritual distress, and the ethics of medical aid in dying. There was advice about how to broach the subject of spirituality and how to start difficult conversations. We also explored the concept of “dying well”. As one attendee from Red Deer said, “I will take away the idea of ‘living until we die’”.
As well as being a valuable educational opportunity, participants remarked on how the Roadshow was also about creating a community and that the breaks were great times to connect with others. One AHPCA member felt she left the workshop with “new friends”. Many people appreciated the opportunity to talk with like-minded people who have been down that road before.
Another Banff attendee sums up her experience beautifully:
“These workshops are extremely valuable as they are always so passionate and current on “what works”; where supports are; great references to read etc. The community of hospice palliative care workers is unmatched in caring and sharing.”
We would like to express our sincerest thanks to everyone who attended our workshops. In particular, we’re extremely grateful to the Order of St Lazarus – Calgary and Edmonton Commanderies for their support of these valuable educational workshops. Without them, these Roadshows would not have been possible.
We’d also like to extend our gratitude to our hosts in each of the locations (Banff/Canmore FCSS, Grande Prairie Hospice Palliative Care Society, Red Deer Hospice Society, and Edson FCSS), and of course, to Dr David Falk, for the fantastic job he did leading our Roadshows.
Planning is already underway for 2017: “This Thing Called Grief – It’s Complicated” – so watch this space for more information…