The Saskatchewan Hospice Palliative Care Association (SHPCA) is partnering with Heartland Hospice Moose Jaw to bring its full-day, end-of-life roadshow to the city on Saturday, Nov. 25, aiming to bring together professionals and community members to have difficult conversations.
"We spend a lot of time planning weddings, and we spend a lot of time planning for birth — why should we do anything differently with the end, right? It's another journey that we're taking, and everybody has to take it," said Mary-Anne Parker, administrative and development co-ordinator for SHPCA.
"I really want to emphasize that these are gentle, exploratory conversations for anyone, and of any age, really. You don't have to be imminently dying to prepare for the end, or to have legitimate questions and concerns and fears. These topics can be difficult to discuss, and we've found that providing a safe space for these discussions is beneficial for everyone who attends."
The SHPCA roadshow is enabled by grants from the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation and the Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovations. It is targeted at rural communities, which are often lacking hospice and palliative resources that could comfort and reassure people experiencing illness, death, grief, and fear.
Heartland Hospice reached out to the SHPCA because Moose Jaw serves as a hub for nearby rural communities. Amanda Dowling with Heartland Hospice said they have been hearing a lot of positive feedback on the event and are happy to be hosting it.
"We've heard really great things about what this roadshow has done for other, smaller communities within the province, so we're hoping to offer a group setting where we can discuss this difficult topic," Dowling said. "I've seen the benefits in effectively preparing for end-of-life and navigating care plans and care provisions. It's crucial.
"Death is one of the only certain things in life, and yet it can be such a taboo subject. This is a chance to talk about it in a normalized setting and remove a lot of the anxiety and awkwardness that can prevent people from having these important conversations."
"This is about getting out into communities and listening to and hearing the folks who live there, right?" Parker explained. "And not in a 'listen to us, we'll show you how it's done' way, but more of a collaborative, sharing atmosphere where we can leverage knowledge from each community and start linking them in a network of support.
"... We go out into communities for a day, and we have some topics that appeal to health care professionals, and we also have topics that appeal to the general public. It's a mix of both and people can come and go based on what appeals to them."
The event starts at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday the 25th at the W.J. Jones & Son Funeral Services Reception Centre at 474 Hochelaga Street West:
- 9:30 a.m. - Welcome
- 10 a.m. - Interdisciplinary Approaches to End of Life care
- 11 a.m. - Having tough conversations
- 12 p.m. - Lunch
- PUBLIC EVENT - 1 to 4 p.m.
- 1 p.m. - How do I plan and prepare for the end?
- 2 p.m. Death Café
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