Policy news: Physician Assisted Dying Policy and the Open Family Presence Policy

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Policy news: Physician Assisted Dying Policy and the Open Family Presence Policy


Physician Assisted Dying

It is decided. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled for the entire country. The Criminal Code ban on assisted dying was struck down provided certain criteria are met. The prohibition against assisted dying will no longer apply to adults who have a “grievous and irremediable” medical condition that causes “endless suffering” and who clearly consent to ending their lives. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan has established policy for our province.

Now we must plan and implement physician assisted dying for patients for whom we provide care in Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region. No doctor will be compelled to provide this service. But each patient who meets the criteria, provides informed consent and chooses this legal option must have timely and unobstructed access to the service. Some of us will have to be service providers.

A provincial working group is ongoing. The Supreme Court granted a delay of one year and subsequently an additional extension of four months before the application of its decision. The time now is June. The purpose of the extension is to allow time for legislative, and policy and procedure initiatives to implement the decision. The Region will meet its obligations.

For a list of recommendations from the Federal Government, click below. Or go here for the full document.

Assisted Dying Recommedations

Published: 29-Feb-2016


RQHR supports family presence; visiting hour restrictions to be removed

***FAQs on this large initiative at the bottom***

We believe families are equal partners in their loved one’s care. To support their presence in our facilities, Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region (RQHR) is removing visiting hour restrictions, beginning March 31. All provincial health regions are adopting this change.

“We welcome families 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” says Marlene Smadu, RQHR’s Vice President of Quality and Transformation. “We will not restrict the time family members spend with their loved ones unless there’s a clinical reason to do so.”

Patients determine who they consider to be family. It is not necessary to be a blood relative.

Kayla Kozan, who was hospitalized at Regina General for three weeks in 2014, said having family members present was vital to her recovery.

“The comfort of being around someone you love while battling an illness is indescribable,” said the 24-year-old. “Knowing that I had a family member coming to visit the next day gave me hope and helped me weather the emotional rollercoaster of my hospitalization.”

Her father, Kevin, said both he and his wife felt their presence was essential to their daughter’s recovery. “We really felt part of the solution. Being present allowed us to get in tune with the illness. In lots of cases, parents need to change their behaviours, too.”

Kevin is excited to learn that the Region is removing visiting hour restrictions, saying he would have appreciated the move when his daughter was in hospital.

Deb Kosabek, manager of Regina General Hospital’s General Surgery/Burn/Short Stay Unit (6A), adopted an open family presence policy on her unit in 2009, in large part as a result of participating in government discussions prior to the release of Saskatchewan’s Patient First Review. The review called for a renewed commitment on the part of those in health care to put the patient first.

She notes that research has shown patients, residents and clients who are supported by families and friends have better mental and emotional health, which helps them heal and manage their illnesses. She’s seen this with her own eyes.

“When families are present, the patient has less anxiety, feels supported, and has a network to advocate for them,” she said. “Family knows their loved ones best and are our greatest resource. It’s important to look at patients and their families as part of a team.

“When you include families in the circle of care, it develops a different feeling on the unit. Patients don’t feel like they’re a bother.”

Kosabek has received a number of letters from patients, families and regional staff that praise 6A staff for their compassion, knowledge, professionalism and teamwork.

“You all restored my faith in nursing,” wrote a former registered nurse, while another letter writer said the impressive 6A staff was “the reason I progressed through the difficulties and challenges of an altered health status due to a colostomy and ileostomy.”

To ensure a smooth transition to the new policy, procedures and standard work are being developed to support unrestricted visiting hours and to provide staff and physicians with processes to manage unique circumstances.

The open family presence policy has been approved by the Ministry of Health and all regional health authority CEOs. It was created by the Patient and Family Centred Care Guiding Coalition which includes representation from patients and families, all health regions, the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council, the Ministry of Health and health partners.

For more information, please see the Frequently Asked Questions.