You have control over your health care choices. Why should that change at the end of your life? While 75 per cent of Canadians want to die out of hospital, approximately 70 per cent of people die in hospital. The reason for this is often because people don’t discuss their end-of-life plans with family members when they are well. And, leaving it to family members hoping to fulfil your wishes can be extremely daunting. Physicians, nurses and social workers will help your family through this stressful time; and, they want to support your decisions as well.
Having the Talk
Finding out that a patient or loved one has a terminal illness can be devastating. Depending on the circumstances, processing the news and coming to terms with it can often take a long time. Having this discussion with a patient and his/her family regarding how they would like to live out their final weeks or months is difficult for everyone involved.
It’s absolutely crucial to talk to your loved ones about end-of-life choices as early as possible to ensure you can experience the best possible quality of life so that your family and physician can honour your wishes if you are no longer able to speak for yourself.
Supporting patients and families in the final 12 months of life
The Mississauga Halton CCAC provides enhanced palliative care services to adults in their last 12 months of life. Our palliative case managers are experts who help patients live as pain- and symptom-free as possible. They support each of their patient’s desire to die in their place of choice whether that is at home or in a hospice.
As a palliative case manager with the Mississauga Halton CCAC, Marlene Grzesiak, RN, certified hospice and palliative nurse, provides her patients and families with more than heath care at home services. She is a friend and stable support throughout the entire process. “In a palliative situation I always say we are walking a shared journey with the patient,” says Grzesiak.
Grzesiak says the most rewarding aspect of her job is, “The privilege of helping our patients and families at the most difficult time of their lives, and knowing at the end of the day, my team and I have made a difference.”
Her days are full, challenging and emotional. Her favourite part of the job is home visits when she gets to meet patients and families face-to-face.
“I am always amazed that patients and their families thank me so much, yet I am so enriched by journeying with them! I feel the loss when my patient passes but feel thankful we were able to help. I guess you could say we help each other. How wonderful is that?”
Judy Chapman, the loving daughter of one of Grzesiak’s patients had this to say about her: “This letter is going to sound like a tribute at The Oscar’s, but in the scheme of life, you and your team at the Mississauga Halton CCAC, if awards were available, would win the Oscar. I want to thank you on behalf of mother, and my entire family, for the kindness, patience, empathy, service, equipment, support, humour, professionalism, and TLC that you offered, not only to Mother, but to my sister and me, in Mother’s care. Your ever-present humour and optimism made possible the comfortable end of life that we all wanted for Mother. I learned so much about palliative care and what is available in the community.”
Want help starting the conversation?
Watch, “Starting the conversation: Advanced care planning” our funny and poignant video, featuring lawyer Mark Handelman at www.youtube.com/user/TheMHCCAC.
Did you know?
• Palliative care is also available for children through our Children’s Services team.
• The Mississauga Halton CCAC has three case managers who are palliative advanced practice nurses. They assist, teach and mentor the members of their patients’ health care team and family to broaden their understanding of palliative care practices, and pain and symptom management.