Fear of dying is common in western culture.
Even the word “died” is often watered down to more gentle phrases such as passed away, passed on, or crossed over. Those words indicate not only a desire to ease the pain of losing a loved one, but soften the path from life to death.
It’s ironic, then, that in British Columbia we put relatively little money into making a person’s final days and weeks more comfortable.
According to a national health information study, a majority of dying people in this province are not receiving an appropriate level of care, whether it be proper pain management, social support or help with post-mortem planning.
We’re not suggesting any means possible must be used to extend life. But caring enough to help a dying person have a more peaceful and respectful end of life should be the least we can do.
It should be noted that dying isn’t reserved for the elderly, to which anyone who reads obituary columns or has experienced someone close battling a terminal illness could attest.
B.C. nurses and the University of Victoria Centre for Aging are teaming up to figure out how appropriate end-of-life care can be provided to more people in B.C., through a research program called Initiative for a Palliative Approach in Nursing: Evidence and Leadership.
They’ll no doubt consider the provincial health budget, which is massive and is expected to grow, given our aging population.
Some of that budget goes to hospice facilities around the province. But not everyone wants to die at hospice, where the staff are knowledgeable and compassionate, yet the atmosphere can seem like a hospital ward.
We believe the provincial government needs to dedicate more funding and attention to making palliative care more far-reaching in British Columbia.