Charting a Palliative Revolution: A Pre-Conference Chat with Drs. Hsien Seow and Sammy Winemaker

Categories: Community Engagement, Featured, In The Media, People & Places, and Research.

In anticipation of the upcoming CHPCA Conference in Ottawa this October, we decided to reach out to our lineup of incredible plenary speakers and ask them a few questions about the Conference, Ottawa, and palliative care in Canada! 

This first article in the series features Dr. Hsien Seow and Dr. Sammy Winemaker – hosts of The Waiting Room Revolution podcast and authors of the new book ‘Hope for the Best, Plan for the Rest: 7 Keys for Navigating a Life-changing Diagnosis’. 


CHPCA: What part of the CHPCA Conference are you most looking forward to? 

Hsien Seow: Seeing all our colleagues and friends, from across the country, in person again! 

Sammy Winemaker: I’m with Hsien on that one!  Love the ‘hallway’ chit-chats! 


CHPCA: Have you ever been to Ottawa? Any favourite spots? If not, are there any sights you’d like to see? 

H: My spouse used to work in Ottawa, so I have a lot of favorite spots, such as skating along the Rideau canal in the winter and the tulip festival at Commissioners Park in the spring. Since the conference is in the fall—I’m most looking forward to walking around ByWard market on the weekend and the many great restaurants in Ottawa. The high tea at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier is also a must-do, at least once. 

S:  I rented a tandem bike with my Mom and we rode along the path during the tulip festival.  Bought an original water colour from a local artist of tulips to commemorate our visit.  Hanging in my bedroom.  I agree about high tea at the Fairmont!!  When I was there, I sat at a table beside former prime minister Jean Chretien and his bodyguard.  I felt I had to be on my best behaviour.  My Mother, however, was a completely different story! 


CHPCA: Do you have any advice for a first-time conference attendee? 

H: We are one big family in the palliative care world. Please don’t be shy to introduce yourself to others and network. We will be delighted to meet another member of our palliative care community. 

S:  Attend session that are outside your ‘usual picks’. Surprise yourself. Also, bring a notebook and pen for jotting down ‘pearls’ in each session.  That’s how you know I’m old… suggesting notebook and pen. A thermal coffee mug goes a long way. I also like to bring running shoes to take walks between sessions.   


CHPCA: This year’s theme is ‘A Palliative Revolution’ – what opportunities for change are you seeing or want to see in Canada’s healthcare system? 

H: There’s a huge opportunity to activate patients and families with information and tips so they can leech out a palliative approach to care, without the labels, all along the illness trajectory. That’s the heart of the Waiting Room Revolution. 

S: Agree with Hsien! In addition, I’d like to see a palliative approach get mandatory real estate in health care training curriculum. Simultaneously, there needs to be ‘all-hands-on deck’ faculty development of nursing and physician preceptors so that health care learners can see a palliative approach role modelled by all nurses and doctors in healthcare… not just by PC specialists. One more thing… mandatory curriculum in home/community care! A care setting that is in the ’shadows’ of other care settings.  Needs a spotlight! 


CHPCA:  Can you give readers a bit of a teaser about what you’ll be talking about at the CHPCA Conference? 

H: We’ll be talking about what has happened since we launched our podcast, The Waiting Room Revolution, and shared the 7 keys to a better illness experience. 

S: We also be talking about the various ways we are inviting others to be part of the Revolution. We need everyone’s help. 


CHPCA: Can you tell us more about your new book coming out? 

H: Our book “Hope for the best, Plan for the rest: 7 keys for navigating a life-changing diagnosis” just came out in bookstores everywhere. It’s a how-to-guide for patients and families on what people wish they’d known earlier in the illness, particularly the skills they need to be more informed and prepared. 

S: We also think there’s value for health care providers to read this too. We are so thrilled to showcase our book at this conference. There’ll be a chance to buy the book, get it signed, and there’s even going to be a book giveaway! We can’t wait to share it with you all. 

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