By Erin Donald

I used my Dorothy Kergin Endowment Fund award for registration and part of travel to the 2016 International Congress on Palliative Care in Montreal, Canada.

At the conference I represented the University of Victoria School of Nursing by presenting the findings of my scoping review for palliative care for persons with severe persistent mental illness. The presentation was met with many questions and comments and conversation followed. I attended other sessions at the conference including a special research forum on methodology and two sessions on the Compassionate Communities movement. In the research methodology forum I learned about the role and steps of collaborative and participatory evaluation. I also learned about a proposed palliative-modified intention to treat analysis to resolve high data loss from disease-related (non-intervention related) death in palliative intervention studies.

In the discussion after this presentation some interesting points were brought up with concern about this method. It was fascinating to hear the different perspectives.

I also attended two sessions on Compassionate Communities and the movement to ground the principles of palliative care into the public sphere. I learned about interventions using volunteer navigators for the elderly with chronic life-limiting disease, and community gardens that provide space for reflection and engagement for those facing loss. It’s important to look at ways communities can be empowered to care for those with chronic life-limiting illness, and to support bereaved friends and family members. It’s too easy to forget that health services, especially specialized health services, aren’t always the answer.

While I attended many other sessions, one that stood out was the University of Victoria’s Dr. Kelli Stajduhar presenting on her ethnographic study of palliative care for structurally vulnerable persons. Members of this population experience more barriers to care than many of us an imagine, and just day to day survival often overtakes the ability to engage with health care services to receive basic care and symptom control. At this conference I also had the opportunity to meet colleagues from across the country and around the globe. This conference was a positive experience that allowed me to further my learning, and to represent the University of Victoria in disseminating my research findings. I am grateful for the support of this endowment fund, which made my participation in this conference possible.

From the 2016 Fall Communiqué — 40th Anniversary Issue