Palliative care is an evolving field with extensive studies demonstrating its benefits to patients, families, and the health care system. Many health systems have developed or are developing palliative care programs. The Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians (CSPCP) is often asked to recommend how many palliative care specialists are needed to implement and support an integrated palliative care program. This information would allow health service decision makers and educational institutions to plan resources accordingly to manage the needs of their communities. The CSPCP is well positioned to answer this question, as many of its members are Directors of palliative care programs and have been responsible for creating and overseeing the pioneering work of building these programs over the past few decades. In 2017, the CSPCP commissioned a working group to develop a staffing model for specialist palliative care teams based on the interdependence of three key professional roles, an extensive literature search, key stakeholder interviews, and expert opinions. This article is the Canadian Society of Palliative Care's recommended starting point that will be further evaluated as it is utilized across Canada.
For more information and to see sample calculations go to the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians Staffing Model for Palliative Care Programs (https://www.cspcp.ca).
End-of-life (EOL) care is a key aspect of critical care medicine (CCM) training. The goal of this study was to survey CCM residents and program directors (PDs) across Canada to describe current EOL care education. Using a literature review, we created a self-administered survey encompassing 10 CCM national objectives of training to address: (1) curricular content and evaluation methods, (2) residents' preparedness to meet these objectives, and (3) opportunities for educational improvement. We performed pilot testing and clinical sensibility testing, then distributed it to all residents and PDs across the 13 Canadian CCM programs. Our response rate was 84.3% overall (77 [81.1%] for residents and 13 [100%] for PDs). Residents rated direct observation, informal advice, and self-reflection as both the top 3 most utilized and perceived most effective teaching modalities. Residents most commonly reported comfort with skills related to pain and symptom management (n = 67, 94.3%; score > 3 on 5-point Likert scale), and least commonly reported comfort with donation after cardiac death skills (n = 26-38; 44.8%-65.5%). Base specialty and time in CCM training were independently associated with comfort ratings for some, but not all, EOL skills. With respect to family meetings, residents infrequently received feedback; however, most PDs believed feedback on 6 to 10 meetings is required for competence. When PD perceptions of teaching effectiveness were compared with resident comfort ratings, differences were most apparent for skills related to pain and symptom management, cultural awareness, and ethical principles. By the end of their first subspecialty training year, PDs expect residents to be competent at most, but not all, EOL skills. In summary, trainees and programs rely on clinical activities to develop competency in EOL care, resulting in some educational gaps. Transitioning to competency-based medical education presents an opportunity to address some of these gaps, while other gaps will require more specific curricular intervention.
Background: The 3 Wishes Project is a semistructured program that improves the quality of care for patients dying in the intensive care unit by eliciting and implementing wishes. This simple intervention honors the legacy of patients and eases family grief, forging human connections between family members and clinicians.
Aim: To examine how the 3 Wishes Project enables collective patterns of compassion between patients, families, clinicians, and managerial leaders in the intensive care unit.
Design: Using a qualitative descriptive approach, interviews and focus groups were used to collect data from family members of dying patients, clinicians, and institutional leaders. Unconstrained directed qualitative content analysis was performed using Organizational Compassion as the analytic framework.
Setting/participants: Four North American intensive care units, participants were 74 family members of dying patients, 72 frontline clinicians, and 20 managerial leaders.
Results: The policies and processes of the 3 Wishes Project exemplify organizational compassion by supporting individuals in the intensive care unit to collectively notice, feel, and respond to suffering. As an intervention that enables and empowers clinicians to engage in acts of kindness to enhance end-of-life care, the 3 Wishes Project is particularly well situated to encourage collective responses to suffering and promote compassion between patients, family members, and clinicians.
Conclusions: Examining the 3 Wishes Project through the lens of organizational compassion reveals the potential of this program to cultivate the capacity for people to collectively notice, feel, and respond to suffering. Our data document multidirectional demonstrations of compassion between clinicians and family members, forging the type of human connections that may foster resilience.
Background: The number of medical undergraduate and postgraduate students completing palliative care clinical rotations in Canadian medical schools is currently unknown. The aim of this study was to assess the proportion of Canadian medical trainees completing clinical rotations in palliative care and to determine whether changes took place between 2008 and 2018.
Methods: In this descriptive study, all Canadian medical schools (n = 17) were invited to provide data at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels (2007/08–2015/16 and 2007/08–2017/18, respectively). Information collected included the number, type and length of palliative care clinical rotations offered and the total number of medical trainees or residents enrolled at each school.
Results: All 17 Canadian medical schools responded to the request for information. At the undergraduate level, palliative care clinical rotations were not offered in 2 schools, mandatory in 2 and optional in 13. Three schools that offered optional rotations were unable to provide complete data and were therefore excluded from further analyses. In 2015/16, only 29.7% of undergraduate medical students completed palliative care clinical rotations, yet this was a significant improvement compared to 2011/12 (13.6%, p = 0.02). At the postgraduate level, on average, 57.9% of family medicine trainees completed such rotations between 2007/08 and 2016/17. During the same period, palliative care clinical rotations were completed by trainees in specialty or subspecialty programs in anesthesiology (34.2%), geriatric medicine (64.4%), internal medicine (30.9%), neurology (28.2%) and psychiatry (64.5%).
Interpretation: Between 2008 and 2018, a large proportion of Canadian medical trainees graduated without the benefit of a clinical rotation in palliative care. Without dedicated clinical exposure to palliative care, many physicians will enter practice without vital palliative care competencies.
Background: The 3 Wishes Project (3WP) is an end-of-life program that aims to honor the dignity of dying patients by creating meaningful patient- and family-centered memories while promoting humanistic interprofessional care.
Objective: To determine whether this palliative intervention could be successfully implemented-defined as demonstrating value, transferability, affordability, and sustainability-beyond the intensive care unit in which it was created.
Design: Mixed-methods formative program evaluation. (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT04147169).
Setting: 4 North American intensive care units.
Participants: Dying patients, their families, clinicians, hospital managers, and administrators.
Intervention: Wishes from dying patients, family members, and clinicians were elicited and implemented.
Measurements: Patient characteristics and processes of care; the number, type, and cost of each wish; and semistructured interviews and focus groups with family members, clinicians, and managers.
Results: A total of 730 patients were enrolled, and 3407 wishes were elicited. Qualitative data were gathered from 75 family members, 72 clinicians, and 20 managers or hospital administrators. Value included intentional comforting of families as they honored the lives and legacies of their loved ones while inspiring compassionate clinical care. Factors promoting transferability included family appreciation and a collaborative intensive care unit culture committed to dignity-conserving end-of-life care. Staff participation evolved from passive support to professional agency. Program initiation required minimal investment for reusable materials; thereafter, the mean cost was $5.19 (SD, $17.14) per wish. Sustainability was demonstrated by the continuation of 3WP at each site after study completion.
Limitation: This descriptive formative evaluation describes tertiary care center-specific experiences rather than aiming for generalizability to all jurisdictions.
Conclusion: The 3WP is a transferrable, affordable, and sustainable program that provides value to dying patients, their families, clinicians, and institutions.
Primary Funding Source: Greenwall Foundation.