The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) began this conversation last April with a resolution to urge dialogue on end-of-life care and a principled discussion about assisted dying, which received wide support from the association’s consultation representatives. This year, in light of the Supreme Court of Canada decision to overturn the ban on assisted dying, the conversation is even more important, RNAO says.
End-of-Life Care: Voices and Perspectives will round out RNAO’s 90th AGM, and feature voices from a variety of perspectives, such as palliative care and parish nursing, law, and personal accounts. Members of the public and journalists are welcome to attend.
“It is of utmost importance that nurses lead the charge when it comes to driving conversations on end-of-life issues,” says RNAO President Dr. Vanessa Burkoski. “Death, dying, universal access to comprehensive palliative care, and assisted death – these topics all have tremendous ethical, legal and policy implications for nurses, health-care providers, and the public. That’s why it is vital to ensure everyone is able to share their thoughts, and to engage in open and respectful dialogue.”
RNAO, which has refrained from taking a stance on the highly divisive topic of assisted death, has called for the establishment of a principled, regulatory framework to guide implementation of the Supreme Court’s decision. The association has also urged involving nurses in the development of a national and/or provincial framework. At its 2014 AGM, RNAO members passed a resolution approving a set of principles to be incorporated when discussing assisted death. Some of these principles are contained in the Supreme Court ruling.
“RNAO has held webinars involving more than 500 members on this fundamental and most sensitive aspect of public policy, and we will continue to keep our promise to nurses and the public to advance dialogue on the court ruling. Nurses have a important role to play in these conversations,” says Dr.Doris Grinspun, RNAO CEO. “End-of-life care affects RN, NPs and nursing students across the health system – from advanced planning, to palliative care, to policy and practice changes resulting from the Supreme Court’s ruling. That is why we will continue to bring our voice, and engage with the public and lawmakers to ensure we keep the patient’s best interest and wishes at the forefront, so that people in our country can die with comfort, peace and dignity.”
Read RNAO’s resolution and backgrounder on end-of-life care.