End-of-Life Care at the Forefront

End-of-life care is a difficult, but necessary, topic of discussion for families and physicians alike. The challenges doctors face in broaching this subject with patients and their families was the focus of a recent article written by Carly Weeks in The Globe and Mail. The article discusses the ‘growing push among members of the medical community to revamp the way doctors, patients and families approach the end-of-life process’ and highlights a program designed by Dr. James Downar, a critical care and palliative care specialist at Toronto General Hospital, that prepares doctors-in-training for end-of-life dialogue with patients and family members. An End-of-Life Care Distance Education Program for practicing family physicians is also available through CEPD. Funded by the Government of Ontario and directed by Drs. Anita Singh and Leila Lax, the predominantly web-based modular program aims to help family physicians provide better care for dying patients and their families. Key issues such as pain and symptom management, barriers to providing homecare and communication skills are covered in the curriculum. End-of-life care, now more than ever, is at the forefront of discussion in medicine and the media due to the sheer size of Canada’s aging population.