~ September 2009 Edition
~ Contributing Editor Audrey Cole ~
and Glen Pettinger
Member at Large
Pro-bites.......a Probian's point of view.
Palliative care is one of many life situations demanding scrupulous protection of personal decision-making rights. When capacity might be diminishing decisions are vulnerable to external and possibly conflicting interests.
Guardianship is society’s response and Powers of Attorney enable choice of one’s own substitute decision makers. Both remove the fundamental right to make decisions, destroying the individual’s legal status. People with intellectual disabilities face this reality from the age of majority with devastating and soul-destroying consequences.
Their hope lies in the federal government’s statement last week at the U.N. that it is “giving priority consideration to ratification” this year, of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which provides for “Supported Decision Making” an alternative to guardianship.
We should be watching this. It would be good for us old folks too!
Vignettes from the September Meeting
Palliative Care, specifically Dignity House of Perth Hospice, was the topic on September 2nd. Now volunteers, guest speakers Douglas Burt and Stephanie Smart brought to their presentation a wealth of personal commitment and professional experience: Doug from 44 years of health care administration and Stephanie from her nursing career, latterly as head of the area Bayshore Health Services unit. Their message was both disturbing and exhilarating.
It was hard for this listener to accept that, almost ten years into the 21st century, palliative care is better known by its inconsistent, disconnected and limited availability than as a fundamental, social and ethical obligation of a caring society. The paucity of government funding is inexplicable. One can only hope the explanation does not lie in the limited electoral threat of citizens unlikely to remain on the voter’s list long enough to defeat a government of the day.
Thankfully, volunteer movers and shakers such as those involved in this Hospice project are working to fill the glaring gap in social consciousness at least in Perth and its surrounding area, where the closest current day or residential hospice care is over 80 kms away in either Brockville or Ottawa.
Our speakers provided startling facts. Although Community Care Access Centres provide in-home palliative support, hours are limited. Once families can no longer manage necessary care, hospitalisation remains the only option. Last year, 125 palliative care patients spent, on average, their last 30 days in our local Perth/Smiths Falls hospital. At $800 per day, their care in a setting designed for acutely ill and post surgical care was a less than optimal personal or economic solution. Had it been available, a fully operational 10 bed residential hospice would have provided a less hectic and more intimate and family friendly care environment for those patients at less that half the (estimated annual) cost.
But the efforts of the Dignity House group are not about money. They are about fulfilling the ethical imperatives of appropriate, personalised end of life relief from suffering in environments chosen by the individual and designed to accommodate not only immediate medical needs but also the emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of the individual and his or her loved ones.
A 2-phase plan is proceeding. First, a Day Hospice Programme and, ultimately, a Residential Hospice Programme. It will take much effort. With a team as committed as our speakers, one’s sense is that the money will be raised and this will happen.
Guests and members of other Probus Clubs are welcome to join our special events. If you have an idea for an activity you think other Probus members might enjoy, please talk to Mary Kilgour or Glen Pettinger, or one of the other members of the Management Team. We are always looking for new and creative ideas, as well as people to take the lead in organizing events.
It was that time of year again – the Annual General Meeting proceeded as it should!
Management Team Notes