Why palliative care? Well, the reality is that the vast majority of the direct practice nursing roles in this province will use palliative care principles at some point in their practice. Even as a childbirth nurse, I encountered situations in which my role included providing support to a baby unable to survive or a family who were experiencing loss.
Nurses who work in direct palliative care and oncology will, of course, require a great deal of skill in palliative care. Having said that, however, so will home care nurses, long-term care nurses and nurses practicing in other areas of a hospital who, from time to time, care for those who are experiencing end of life.
On February 6th, the Supreme Court of Canada decided to allow people with ‘grievous and irremediable medical conditions’ to ask for physician-assisted suicide. This decision will give many Canadians additional choice in the event they find themselves facing terminal illness.
However, we cannot allow this new choice to detract from our focus on creating and delivering the very best palliative care possible. If we fail in this regard, we will actually be decreasing choice for Canadians, not enhancing it.
As we engage in a national dialogue about the new law, we also need to continue our important conversations about other palliative methods to ensure a good death for those who would not choose physician- assisted suicide.
We believe RPNs must be included in this conversation and that we need to engage in our own sharing of values and knowledge. That’s why we are working to create a new specialty interest group for those interested in palliative care or whose practice involves some element of palliative care. This coming membership year, starting July 1, 2015, you will be able to choose to join that group while registering for your RPNAO membership.
As you follow the news and read through our upcoming issue of the Registered Practical Nursing Journal which focuses primarily on palliative care, I hope you will be re-engaged to think about palliative care and the many roles that RPNs play in this important work. I hope you will also be inspired to further hone your palliative care skills so that patients, clients and residents have all the options and choices they deserve.