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https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/palliative-care-in-a-pandemic-patients-who-are-not-expected-to-survive-should-not-be-abandoned/

Since the impact of Covid-19 really began to be felt by most Canadians, as we engaged in social isolation and social distancing, as all of our activities (from exercise to meetings to concerts and playdates) have been cancelled, many of us have felt a sense of powerlessness. What can we do to support people who are suffering, when we can’t volunteer (in person), or even visit our elderly relatives and friends? When our grandchildren are off-limits for us, just when our adult children (their parents) could use our help. When the virus seems to lurk all around us, and we have no idea how to protect ourselves and the people we love.

One of the most distressing developments is the spread of Covid-19 in long-term care facilities and retirement residences. Elderly people are dying without their families by their sides. And in the face of a shortage of ventilators and protective equipment for health care workers, triage measures designed to save those most likely to survive the disease mean that elderly, vulnerable people may be left to die.

The article above offers and much-needed call for palliative care for those who are succumbing to the coronavirus. Dr. James Downer urges physicians and other health care measures to provide comfort measures including pain relief for all who could benefit from it.

These are challenging time for all of us. While we might not be on the front-lines of the fight against Covid-19, we are all subject to quarantine, social distancing, not to mention the challenges of parents trying to work at home while keeping their children occupied. We all need to rise to our best selves in these times – to reach out to those who might need help, might be lonely or afraid. I have to believe that there are actions we can take, however small, to make a difference.

More to come…

 

 

 

www.theglobeandmail.com/life/first-person/article-there-is-beauty-and-joy-at-the-end-of-life-too/

A lovely article about hospice care that captures so much of what I experienced as a hospice volunteer.

Last week I was interviewed for an article in the Toronto Star about death doulas, death cafes, and other efforts to counter our death denying culture. As it happened, I was also working on the finishing touches of a book chapter on death, dying and Canadian families, so it was a great coincidence of events. Both have provided me with the chance to talk about the importance of talking about dying!

Here’s the article:

https://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/2019/10/01/in-toronto-you-can-hire-a-death-doula-to-take-the-fear-out-of-dying.html

Brad Tice says doing patient transfers for palliative care is usually depressing, but a trip on May 7 was out of the ordinary.
— Read on regina.ctvnews.ca/mobile/patient-taken-on-final-ice-cream-trip-on-the-way-to-hospice-1.4434724

Where I’ve been

When I opened my blog the other day, I could hardly believe that it had been over two months since I last wrote here. There are many reasons for my silence – the intensely snowy and icy Ottawa winter that kept many of us hiding in our houses, reading books and longing for winter to end! The birth of my newest grandchild (and countless trips to Toronto to help with preparations and host a shower, and now hours upon hours of walking with her, delighting in the wonder of a new life in this world. A journey to Boston en famille to watch my older daughter compete in her third Boston marathon! Visits to my eldest sister as she recuperated from heart surgery.

I’ve termed this year in which I will turn 70 the year of the family – and it is certainly proving to be an appropriate moniker. It seems as though my “to do” lists consist of trip preparations and must-not-forgets; and my time at the computer seems to be spent booking VIA rail trips and hotels, rather than writing blog posts or brilliant stories. Moments are captured in fragments in my journal and photographs on my newest Iphone. It has been a fabulous year and I am quite literally full of gratitude.

Of course, I still wonder where I will find my place in the world of hospice volunteering. I keep up to date on events and developments in palliative care and surround myself with the newest books and articles on death and dying.

In closing, I wanted to share a moving article about hospice palliative care that appeared in a local magazine last month. It’s a beautiful reminder of the tremendous value of  hospice care for dying people and their families.

https://ottawamagazine.com/magazine/palliative-powers/

 

Part 2 of the interview I did with Meridian Swift, volunteer manager and blogger extraordinaire. Writing this blog has enabled me to meet people literally around the world who are committed to volunteering, hospice care, and justice. Enjoy!

volunteerplaintalk

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Experts with skills and talents to share are everywhere, including the many experts within our volunteer programs. Last week, in our first part of this interview, Katherine Arnup, author of the new book, “I don’t have time for this,” shared her story in both caring for loved ones and volunteering at her local hospice.

In part 2, Katherine gives us insight into how we can encourage the experts among us.

VPT: How can organizations recognize volunteer contributions?

K: I think volunteer contributions are not easily measured. Organizations can miss out on all the things volunteers contribute by not recognizing the whole person and what they bring. I used to speak to other hospice volunteer appreciation meetings. I would have volunteers come up to me afterwards and say, “thank you so much for understanding what we do and thank you for validating us and our work.” The volunteers were so grateful…

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Recently, I had a wonderful conversation with the author of Volunteer plain talk (https://volunteerplaintalk.com). It’s always so energizing to have the opportunity to talk about mission and meaning in the volunteer work we do. Part 2 will be posted next week.

volunteerplaintalk

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Part One of Two:

Recently, I was fortunate to catch up with Katherine Arnup, author of the new book, “I don’t have time for this,” a practical, yet emotionally supportive book that guides caregivers through the difficult process of caring for aging parents.   Katherine’s amazing book is available here: “I don’t have time for this,” by Katherine Arnup.

Katherine is an example of the highly talented volunteers who contribute to their organizations far beyond the hours recorded. These volunteers ambitiously advocate for their chosen organizations and work behind the scenes to create awareness.

For years, Katherine has been a strong voice advocating for terminally ill people and their caregivers.

In this two-part post, we have the opportunity to learn from Katherine’s story, one which formed her dedication to spreading awareness of the hospice mission. Like Katherine, mission experienced volunteers give our organizations the opportunity to gather important feedback about…

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The poet, Mary Oliver, died on January 17th at the age of 83. Her poetry has inspired me in my life, my work and writing for more than two decades. Here’s a link to a lovely reflection on her writing and her legacy.

The late poet’s work inspired a deeper understanding of attention, suffering, interconnectedness, and hope.
— Read on tricycle.org/trikedaily/mary-oliver/

https://www.abc.net.au/7.30/helping-people-tell-their-life-story-as-they-face/10494368

Here’s a link to an Australia report on a program where volunteers help terminally ill people to write their life stories. I would love to be part of such a program!

Here’s a link to an interview with Kelli Stadjuhar, whose work with marginalized people has inspired me for years. I was fortunate to hear her at the International Congress this month. She is passionate about the way end of life care is (and is not) provided to people who live on the margins of society.

www.cbc.ca/player/play/1353794115819

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