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End-of-life care to be monitored in Fort William

Thursday October 28, 2010

End-of-life care is being studied in two northwestern Ontario First Nation communities.

“We’re looking at planning and hoping that all of our Elders will be comfortable and have what they need,” said Karen Bannon, Fort William First Nation’s health care centre manager. “(We’re looking) to make it (end-of-life-care) more convenient and more culturally sensitive.”

Fort William and Naotkamegwanning First Nation were chosen as partners and study sites for the study, as were Six Nations of the Grand River Territory in southern Ontario and Peguis First Nation in Manitoba.

The $1.825 million five-year study is being funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Mary Lou Kelley, research affiliate with the Centre for Education and Research on Aging and Health, and Kevin Brazil, director of St. Joseph’s Health System’s Research Network and professor in the department of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics at McMaster University, will lead the research.

“Addressing the unmet need for accessible, culturally appropriate palliative care services for Aboriginal people in First Nations communities is a growing social obligation and an emerging Canadian policy priority,” Kelley, who is also a professor of social work at Lakehead University said. “Participants in First Nations communities have much to teach all of us about the process of supporting local capacity building.”

The research will be looking into a model and guidelines for developing palliative care, including the identification of critical components of success for developing palliative care services in local communities.

Kelley said one of the barriers at the current time for First Nations people is lack of access to end-of-life care in their home communities.

“We’re trying to work with the communities to facilitate better linkages and to create ways to bring more expertise into the communities themselves to assist the locals,” Kelley said.

Bannon said resources should be put in place so the Elders can have their pain management looked after through the community’s own services.

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