Salmon Arm’s Dr. Fiona McLellan, part of the Shuswap’s palliative care team, suggests people consider having a conversation with loved ones about advanced care planning, what would be important to them at end of life. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon Arm’s Dr. Fiona McLellan, part of the Shuswap’s palliative care team, suggests people consider having a conversation with loved ones about advanced care planning, what would be important to them at end of life. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Shuswap doctor suggests ways to best talk about making end-of-life plans

Physician emphasizes it’s not about doom and gloom, but making use of time at home

What helps you get through difficult times? A friend? Your faith? Your cat?

What would be important to you if you were nearing the end of your life?

What are you most worried about? Being alone? Pain? Something else?

These kinds of questions are ones that can start conversations about Advanced Care Planning, the process of making sure that your wishes for the end of your life, whenever that may be, are known and respected.

Dr. Fiona McLellan is a member of the Shuswap’s palliative care team. Because National Advanced Care Planning Day is held in April, and because COVID-19 has prompted people to think about their mortality, McLellan wants to bring people’s attention to resources and supports that can help.

“The whole encouragement to have these conversations is actually to reduce suffering, so you can have your wishes known and have what you want, from the whole range of ‘I want you to do everything,’ to ‘I’d really rather just be comfortable,’” said McLellan.

“It’s not that there’s a right answer or proper way to respond, it’s so people know what you want in those circumstances rather than guessing, so we can offer what’s appropriate for your wishes and not what we think you want.”

Read more: Canadians rush to prepare their wills amid ongoing COVID-19 uncertainty

Read more: A personal look at assisted dying

McLellan said she’s seen the statistic that about 80 per cent of people have had some conversations with family members, or would like to have conversations about end-of-life care, but only about 10 per cent actually talk to their doctor about it.

“So there’s a lot of people who sometimes end up getting interventional care that they don’t want, just because they haven’t made their wishes known in advance.

“Another thing I have noticed over my many years in family practice is it’s really hard for families to be left at that moment to make decisions where they have to have those conversations. They’re very anxious about making the right decision or the responsibility of making that decision.”

McLellan said questions about values are easier to start a conversation than: would you ever want to go on a ventilator?

”Just opening up the conversation is the first goal, I would say. I think people are nervous and anxious about having those conversations; they worry about them and that’s why they don’t have them… Rather than getting into a nuts and bolts technical conversation about, would you want this to happen, would you want that to happen, it’s more about, what are your goals and wishes, what’s important to you?”

McLellan said some people are afraid that having these conversations will make others feel hopeless or feel worse. However, she said, studies show talking about end-of-life reduces anxiety and alleviates suffering.

Several resources are online which provide more information about an advanced care plan.

They include the Advanced care planning guide and www.advancedcareplanning.ca, the Conversation Project and the B.C Centre for Palliative Care website.

McLellan also said that although the doors of Shuswap Hospice Society are closed because of the coronavirus, “their phones and hearts are open,” ready to support people.

McLellan emphasizes that with so many people spending time at home together, this might be the perfect chance to strike up an uncomfortable conversation.

“There won’t be a better time. I think people think, well, I’ll do that later. The best times to have those conversations are when you’re well. Not when you’re sick or when you’re not able to speak for yourself. I think people find it easier to open up and talk when there’s not a crisis.”


marthawickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

DeathDoctorsPlanning

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Lifted cannabis staff Dave, Susie, Tanya, Elena and their massive inflatable joint hit the streets in downtown Penticton April 20, 2021, making sure 4/20 didn’t go forgotten amid a pandemic. (Jesse Day - Western News)
Penticton cannabis shop brings spirit of 4/20 to the streets amid pandemic

Lifted Cannabis employees celebrated their favourite holiday April 20 in downtown Penticton

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
67 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty people in the region are hospitalized with the virus, 11 of whom are intensive care

Penticton’s Nanaimo Avenue Bridge is set for removal in July 2021. (Jesse Day - Western News)
No replacement for Nanaimo Avenue Bridge this year

Council voted to add consideration for a replacement to a future budget

Penticton’s Ikeda Japanese Garden, located along the Okanagan lake waterfront, was constructed in 2003 and opened two years later. (City of Penticton/Screenshot)
Penticton-Ikeda Japanese Cultural Club seeking volunteers for garden maintenance

Activities include thinning, trimming, raking and ‘lively conversations with other volunteers’

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Kate Budau’s flat tire outside of Glenmore Elementary School on Monday. (Contributed)
Kelowna mom searches for Good Samaritans who helped her change a tire

Woman looking for two dads who helped her after her tire popped in the Glenmore Elementary School drop-off area on Monday

John Wekking, Merritt Road Report - Facebook
 Coquihalla Road Report
Wildfire sparks off Coquihalla in Merritt

The wildfire is located near the Dollarama off of Highway 5

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Lumby resident Dan Hill was at Vernon’s Polson Park to celebrate 4-20 by giving away free marijuana joints to people of age April 20, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
North Okanagan man back with free joints, cupcakes on 4-20

Dan Hill is trying to help people of age relax during a stressful April with marijuana giveaway

Most Read