End of life matters — We’re working to make tough conversations a little easier

By: Aynsley Young, Palliative Care NP & Think Research Clinical Consultant

As a nurse practitioner specializing in palliative care I’m often confronted with the question — when does end of life care actually begin?

The answer, like palliative care itself, is complex.

Palliative care can and likely should begin earlier than most people would think. That’s because palliative care’s aim is to relieve suffering, to improve a person’s quality of life and, ultimately, the quality of their death. 

The process itself is incredibly important. 

It exists to help patients and their families. 

To honour a person’s hopes and fears. 

To help loved ones cope with grief and loss during illness and bereavement. 

Palliative care is not just one thing — it combines many factors to deliver some peace of mind during an extremely difficult time. These conversations can be difficult, even for experienced professionals. End-of-life is part of the palliative care approach, that can encompass the last months and days of life. 

Turning a sensitive topic of conversation into a clinical tool may seem counterintuitive. But what we’ve seen is that when we help staff in a seniors care setting feel more comfortable facilitating that discussion, they’re better able to communicate with residents and their families. It also arms them with knowledge that can sometimes completely change the conversation, and the plan of care.

Clinical Support Tools provide digital, evidence-based clinical decision support and enable clinicians to provide individualized, holistic care throughout a resident’s journey, from assessment to care planning and beyond. Essentially, it’s a clinical playbook to help staff improve workflows, streamline communications, reduce administrative burdens, support care planning and bring leading practices to clinicians at the point-of-care. 

The Palliative and End-of-Life digital CST was designed with embedded clinical decision-support to allow for a proactive approach to end-of-life. It keeps the focus on improving the resident’s quality of life, highlighting symptoms that are a priority. Long-term care facilities using the CST are able to provide superior care, while also forecasting necessary resources to support a resident’s choices.

Think Research has recently revamped its End-of-Life CST and I was honoured to join a recent webinar as a guest speaker to introduce this important tool.

Please click here to watch the presentation and discover how to add the End-of-Life Clinical Support Tool to your library.