Palliative care in a pandemic

Community COVID-19 Featured

Society celebrates Palliative Care Month and the importance of the service

Although cancellations are the norm due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Aberdeen Palliative Care Society is still spreading the message of end of life care in honour of Palliative Care Month.

Now more than ever people have been focusing on their health by staying home and thinking about the tragedy the pandemic has swept across the world. Although it may just be a focus at the moment for some, healthcare is always on the minds of the Palliative Care Society which helps residents across the county.

Many may think of palliative care as the wing in the hospital only, but Margaret Ellen Disney, chair of the APC Society, would like others to know the extent of work that goes into palliative care in the area.

“The society… it supports community palliative care, people in their homes and nursing homes,” she said. The service is administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority staff and supported by the society locally.

Eighty per cent of the palliative care service takes place in the home, shared Disney adding that those who reside in the hospital wing are more acute cases. Many people wish to stay in their own homes which can be difficult if you have a life-threatening illness, whether you are alone or have a caregiver.

“We find our patients that receive a good palliative care that their life expectancy is extended by sometimes quite a lot of time,” Disney said.

The Palliative Care society runs only on donations so events like Palliative Care Month can be important to bring attention to the important work that is being done. Those interested in making a donation or donating time by becoming a volunteer are welcome to check out the Facebook page of the Aberdeen Palliative Care Society to contact members or leave a message with Martin Fisher at the Aberdeen Hospital to express interest in donating.

Although palliative care may seem like a death sentence to some, Disney shares that it simply means they have been diagnosed with an illness that has no cure.

Celebrations for Palliative Care Month are different with the pandemic this year. As part of the usual observances, a service is usually held to remember those who have passed in the last year. This year, because of health restrictions, the service will not be able to take place.

“It has been a soul searching time for us to come to terms of what is truly important. The human connection seems to be more cherished now that we have lost our ability to do so. A time when everyone is sacrificing themselves for the greater good of us all has become truly an inspiration in the good of humanity. Our patients in Palliative Care are especially noticing this,” said Dr. Anne Kwasnik, the physician that oversees the Palliative Care Unit.

“One of the more difficult issues that have become paramount with this pandemic and the ever changing challenges has been the inability of visitors to be with their dying loved ones. Respecting these policies and working with alternative ways to say goodbye has brought out ingenuity and compassion in our community. This, too, shall pass and we will have a reaffirmed understanding of the strength of the human spirit and the power of love.”

Disney echoed the importance of the work being done, especially in light of what has been happening in the world.

“In some ways, it’s quite simple what we do, but it’s essential,” said Disney.