BC Patient Safety & Quality Council

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Coping with End of Life

Hawthorne Comfort Care Committee

Hawthorne Seniors Care Home

In 2011, staff at the Hawthorne Seniors Care Home formed a team to enhance end-of-life care for residents, in recognition of the fact that each individual requires personalized support and comfort measures. The passionate and diverse members of the Hawthorne Comfort Care Committee are dedicated to the well-being and care of residents, and draw on their collective expertise to create individual, meaningful, and comfortable experience for residents in their final days.

After consultation and research of best practices, site visits, and a review of end-of-life protocols, the committee developed a multifaceted plan for Active Dying Protocols. These protocols ensure coordination of care and communication between families, caregivers, comfort care volunteers and the committee. As a result, families are better supported and unnecessary transfers of residents to acute care and hospice have been reduced.

The committee provides education, skills and resources as needed to encircle the dying person with compassionate care in a comfortable, dignified environment. Comfort measures such as books, massage therapy products, music, aromatherapy, soft lights, and family information are available to residents and families. Volunteers and staff utilize their knowledge of residents to recognize and explore cultural, spiritual and personal wishes.

Recognizing that peace and serenity are important at the end of life and not all residents had single rooms that made it possible to gather privately with loved ones, the committee led the repurposing and renovation of an underused storage room into a Comfort Care Suite. Now residents have a greater opportunity to connect with family and others.

The suite was opened in 2014 and named The Monarch Room to represent transition, new beginnings, and hope. The room is a collaborative effort between the Recreation Team, who obtained the comfort care items; the Management Team, providing encouragement and securing donations; and the Care Team, supporting the vision at every step.

The staff have appreciated the improvements in communication facilitated by the Active Dying Protocols. They are now also given the opportunity to visit and say goodbye to residents. Families of residents have benefitted from being able to share their needs and wishes for comfort measures with the Committee. Many have written heartfelt letters expressing their gratitude and appreciation for the care provided to their loved ones at the end of life.

The Comfort Care Committee plans to use its $2,500 sponsorship to support volunteer training, to replenish the stock items in the comfort carts, and to purchase soft blankets and pillows for The Monarch Room to make it more welcoming for residents.