Death is a natural part of life, but many Canadians are hesitant to have essential conversations about the end of their lives. The Vanier Institute of the Family seeks to change this with the publication of Family Perspectives: Death and Dying in Canada, a conversation catalyst intended to spark dialogue in households, workplaces and communities across the country by exploring death and dying through a family lens.
Family Perspectives: Death and Dying in Canada examines the evolution of death and dying in Canada across generations, the desires and realities of families surrounding death and dying, the role of families in end-of-life care and its impact on well-being. Through current data and trend analysis, interviews with caregivers and families, and reflections on hospice volunteering from author Dr. Katherine Arnup, this study discusses death and dying within the current and emerging social, cultural and policy landscapes.
– Hospice palliative care can play an important role in helping dying people and their families, yet most Canadians don’t receive any.
- Palliative care benefits up to 85% of dying people at the end of their lives.
- An estimated 16% to 30% of Canadians receive some form of palliative care, depending upon where they live.
- Three-quarters (74%) of surveyed Canadians report having thought about end-of-life care, but only one-third (34%) have actually had a conversation with a family member.
– Medical assistance in dying (MAID) is having an impact on the conversation on death and dying in Canada.
- Since June 2016, more than 2,600 people across Canada have obtained medical assistance in dying.
- More than one in eight seniors in Canada (12%) say they or a family member have talked to a health care provider about access to MAID.
– Death is becoming less taboo in Canada, thanks to care providers and community initiatives.
- Hospice staff and volunteers, death doulas and other end-of-life practitioners are providing diverse forms of support to many families in Canada, including facilitating advance care planning and discussions about end-of-life care, coordinating care and providing grief support.
- “Death Cafés” are helping people across Canada to gather and discuss their thoughts about death and dying.
“While many people are hesitant to talk about death and dying with their families and health care providers, some of the silence surrounding death and dying in Canada has been broken – a step in the right direction,” says Dr. Arnup. “Talking about death with family, planning for what we hope for and supporting others can help us to see that death is a natural part of life that is not inherently undignified, and to appreciate the present, thereby enriching our lives.”
“Birth and death are among the few universal family experiences,” says Vanier Institute CEO Nora Spinks. “Many Canadians and their families are hesitant to discuss death despite the importance of these conversations in providing and arranging for the care of loved ones at the end of life. It is our hope that Family Perspectives: Death and Dying in Canada helps to move the conversation forward as we recognize and celebrate National Hospice Palliative Care Week.”
Published on May 7, 2018