Clinical R&D

Palliative Care Workshop: Bridging the Technological Gap

December 11, 2017

By: Roger Beharry Lall

“Palliative care is a special kind of health care for individuals and families who are living with a life-limiting illness that is usually at an advanced stage. The goal of palliative care is to provide comfort and dignity for the person living with the illness as well as the best quality of life for both this person and his or her family. A “family” is whoever the person says his or her family is. It may include relatives, partners and friends.” — Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association.

How do we ensure people receive the best in clinical excellence for end-of-life care? At some point in our lives, we will all need palliative care for ourselves or support a loved one through this time in their life. It was with this challenge in mind that Think Research’s Clinical Research and Development team, a team of specialist nurses, pharmacists, and other health care experts, recently hosted a palliative care workshop collaborating with local staff.

Think Research’s Knowledge Translation Specialists continuously turn evidence based clinical research into a library of clinical support tools and the latest effort was to validate the palliative care set.  We were grateful to have experts from across the network including:

  • Brenda Caldwell – Intake and Residential Care Nurse, Kensington Hospice, Toronto
  • Debbie Emmerson – Director of Hospice Care, Kensington Hospice, Toronto
  • Tracey Human – Director, Palliative Pain and Symptom Management Consultant, Toronto
  • Suman Iqbal – Senior Manager, Long-Term Care Best Practices Program, RNAO
  • Ahmed Jakda – Medical Director of Palliative Care, Grand River Hospital, Kitchener and Provincial Palliative Clinical Co-lead, Ontario Palliative Care Network
  • Lismi Kallan – Director of Nursing, Fudger House, Toronto
  • Anita Roopani, RN, BScN, M.Ed, CHPCN(C) – Clinical Nurse Specialist, Palliative Integrated Long Term Care (I-LTC), Toronto
  • Carol Sloan, RN, CHPCN(C) – Mississauga Halton Palliative Care Network Multidisciplinary Clinical Co-Lead and Director/Palliative Care Consultation Acclaim Health, Oakville
  • Tara Walton – Lead, Clinician Engagement, Ontario Palliative Care Network, Cancer Care Ontario, Toronto
  • Aynsley Young – Nurse Practitioner, Toronto CCAC

Despite determined efforts across the healthcare industry to pool clinical knowledge and best practices; there are key issues in providing palliative care in a hospice setting around quality of care, family communication and safety concerns. Which was all the more reason why this workshop was so critical to advancing the work of palliative care clinicians.

The aim of this workshop was to discuss ways to improve care for hospice residents and prepare their families at the end-of-life. The workshop started off with a discussion around the fundamental need to increase palliative care for an aging society. This was followed by more detailed and passionate talk about the urgent need for personalizing end-of-life care options to individual patients and their loved ones – something often overlooked at a macro level. The third theme during the workshop was the need for greater facilitation or integration amongst different care providers. It is difficult to ensure a consistent level of care for palliative care patients.

Many of Think Research’s Advanced Clinical Support tools are able to help facilitate the needs of palliative care. These tools are aligned with recommendations by Health Quality Ontario (HQO) as well as various other association.More important, feedback workshops like this one help to ensure that our information is, not only clinically valid, but operationally practical in the constraints of reality.

One example of our efforts in the Long Term Care and potentially palliative care space is our relatively new, Virtual Care offering. Virtual Care allows residents, or end-of-life patients to connect with their healthcare providers without the stress of added travel. For those who chose to spend their final hours in a home setting, they can do so peacefully, and still get advance care planning with their healthcare providers.

At a particularly stressful time in one’s life, solutions like Virtual Care can ease the stress on patients and families when looking for hospice palliative care services. The overall intent of hospice palliative care is to help individuals transition to end-of-life comfortably and to enhance their quality of life while doing so. The stigma associated with hospice palliative care can frighten patients and their families, who may refrain from seeking these types of services. For this reason; these types of workshops are necessary amongst local leaders in healthcare, and why we’re proud to host these clinical discussions across the network.

Want to join the discussion? If you would like to participate in further clinical workshops hosted by Think Research’s R&D team and impact the Canadian health care sector, please email