Finding a Balance: “Care Talk” vs. “Death Talk”

Categories: Care.

Koch argues that we should put off “death talk” and think about “care talk,” and how we can better provide it. He argues that currently, government funding of care centres, nursing homes, home support and hospice and palliative services is inadequate. Koch uses the example of “Margo” a 102 year-old woman who was in the hospital after a fall. While hospital social workers are pushing to have Margo moved out of the hospital, there is a lack of suitable accommodations for her to be moved into. Therefore, Koch describes her case as one of “fragile life” and not “end-of-life”, a type of case he has witnessed frequently.  He explains that the current “end of life” discussions do not address chronic cases like Margo’s which require improved and increased continuing care, rehabilitation and home services.

Dr. Scott Wooder, President of the Ontario Medical Association, responded to Koch’s commentary by emphasizing that he too has witnessed patients unable to access services such as palliative and hospice care. With this said, Wooder argues that increased end-of-life planning is also necessary. The fact that most patients wish to die at home and not in a hospital requires planning, especially seeing as currently, half of Canadian cancer patients die in hospital. Wooder emphasizes the importance of communicating end-of-life wishes before relatives are left to make difficult decisions on behalf of their loved one. Therefore, Wooder encourages all Ontario adults to discuss end-of-life planning with their doctors and families. He also states that the Ontario Medical Association is taking initiative to develop a province-wide plan for end-of-life care. 

Zelda R. Harris also echoes that there is a significant lack of resources to help those with life threatening issues. Although, Harris also stresses that there is a lack of opportunities to discuss the often uncomfortable topic of death. Like Wooder, Harris emphasizes the importance of conveying hopes, wishes, expectations and attitudes towards death before situations arise where this is no longer possible. 

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