Bruyère Team Creates App to Help Aphasia Patients Communicate at End-of-Life

Categories: Care.

Recognizing Sonya’s frustrations, Krista Curtis, speech-language pathologist at Bruyère’s Saint-Vincent Hospital, and colleague Roshene Lawson, clinical chaplain, decided to develop an app that would make it easier for people like Sonya to communicate their thoughts and feelings about their meaning, values, beliefs and health care needs despite aphasia’s challenges. They felt too many people were unable to communicate their wishes at end-of-life—a crucial part of a life’s journey.

“When patients can’t communicate well, people tend to speak around them,” says Roshene. “They speak to their substitute decision makers or family member rather than to the patient.”

Both Krista and Roshene noticed that resources to support advance care planning and end-of-life discussions were lacking. “The tools we had were just not working for Sonya,” says Krista. “It’s hard to program all the thoughts and feelings that come with end-of-life into a device,” she adds.

The duo felt their app should make it easier for health professionals to ask tough questions and for patients with aphasia to participate more fully in planning their health care needs and end-of-life care discussions. The app currently in development is based on that model.

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