Background: With the legalization of medical assistance in dying (MAiD) in Canada, physicians and nurse practitioners now have another option within their scope of practice to consider alongside hospice palliative care (HPC) to support the patient and family regardless of their choice toward natural or medically assisted death. To elucidate insights and experiences with MAiD since its inception and to help adjust to this new end-of-life care environment, the membership of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) was surveyed.
Methods: The CHPCA developed and distributed a 16-item survey to its membership in June 2017, one year following the legalization of MAiD. Data were arranged in Microsoft® Excel and open-ended responses were analyzed thematically using NVivo 12 software.
Results: From across Canada, 452 responses were received (response rate: 15%). The majority of individuals worked as nurses (n = 161, 33%), administrators (n = 79, 16%), volunteers (n = 76, 16%) and physicians (n = 56, 11%). Almost 75% (n = 320) of all respondents indicated that they had experienced a patient in their program who had requested MAiD. Participants expressed dissatisfaction with the current psychological and professional support being provided by their health care organization and Ministry of Health - during and after the MAiD procedure.
Conclusion: The new complexities of MAiD present unique challenges to those working in the health-care field. There needs to be an increased focus on educating/training providers as without proper support, health-care workers will be unable to perform to their full potential/scope of practice while also providing patients with holistic and accessible care.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: In 2014, Nova Scotia released a provincial palliative care strategy and implementation working groups were established. The Capacity Building and Practice Change Working Group, comprised of health professionals, public advisors, academics, educators, and a volunteer supervisor, was asked to select palliative care education programs for health professionals and volunteers. The first step in achieving this mandate was to establish competencies for health professionals and volunteers caring for patients with life-limiting illness and their families and those specializing in palliative care.
METHODS: In 2015, a literature search for palliative care competencies and an environmental scan of related education programs were conducted. The Irish Palliative Care Competence Framework serves as the foundation of the Nova Scotia Palliative Care Competency Framework. Additional disciplines and competencies were added and any competencies not specific to palliative care were removed. To highlight interprofessional practice, the framework illustrates shared and discipline-specific competencies. Stakeholders were asked to validate the framework and map the competencies to educational programs. Numerous rounds of review refined the framework.
RESULTS: The framework includes competencies for 22 disciplines, 9 nursing specialties, and 4 physician specialties.
CONCLUSIONS: The framework, released in 2017, and the selection and implementation of education programs were a significant undertaking. The framework will support the implementation of the Nova Scotia Integrated Palliative Care Strategy, enhance the interprofessional nature of palliative care, and guide the further implementation of education programs. Other jurisdictions have expressed considerable interest in the framework.