Oct. 1, 2018
Helping to improve the conversations health-care teams have around end-of-life
Lorraine Venturato is currently working on her third funded study on improving palliative care; this national project (across four provinces) is trialing evidence-based interventions to improve the quality of care and the quality of life for those in longterm care.
“We are mostly focused on staff development and education,” says Venturato, who is co-principal investigator of the study and the Alberta lead. “Staff in long-term care centres are often anxious about having conversations with residents and families about death.”
So far, Venturato has observed over 25 conversations with patients, families and health-care providers in the study.
“We have had some issues recruiting families when we tell them it is ‘palliative’ research,” she admits. “When people think of palliative, they are usually referring to an immediate lead-up to death. In actual fact, a palliative approach has a focus on quality of life within the context of chronic and life limiting illness. Frailty and dementia are not something you are going to be cured of although you may live for a number of years. That is why we call it a ‘palliative’ approach. We know what the ultimate end is, but it may take some time to get there. Until that time, we want to provide the best quality of life we can.”
Venturato also holds monthly ‘palliative champions’ sessions with people who have a particular interest in the area. These champions, she feels, will greatly assist in the success of implementation of recommendations once the study is complete. Funding for this phase of the study ends in 2020.
What's next: "I am interested in the nurse management role in long-term care and exploring the skillset that leads to a high performing long-term care team."