Earlier last week, Park Place Seniors Living’s Cerwydden Care Home in Duncan and Accreditation Coordinator Louise Johnson, RN, received an Award of Merit at the province-wide Excellence in B.C. Health Care Awards.
The award was given in the Health Care Innovation category and recognized development of an Ethical Decision-Making Framework for complex care.
The award is Johnson’s second of the year for the project, following a BC Care Providers Association Award in February. The Ethical Decision-Making Framework was chosen by the BC Care Providers Association as the Innovation of the Year for the continuing care sector at the Annual BC Care Awards in Victoria, BC.
The Ethical Framework project provides care home staff with a framework they can use to when facing difficult decisions. This seven-step process guides care-givers in how to collaboratively make ethical decisions, thus helping residents in their care while involving the families of those residents in what may be difficult choices.
Issues for which there is no clear ethical answer frequently arise in complex care situations, so this framework gives employees an effective way to address and resolve those issues.
WHEN WOULD AN ETHICAL FRAMEWORK BE REQUIRED?
For example, there could be an elderly man in a residential care home with multiple health issues and advanced dementia who does not wish to eat and who had earlier – when more cognitively intact – expressed that no extraordinary measures should be undertaken to preserve his life.
Medically, the patient must receive nourishment to live so tube-feeding is an option. However, would this fall under the resident’s definition of unreasonably prolonging life?
The family is divided on the issue, with the wife maintaining that her husband would wish to be let go with no further medical intervention and a son asking that all possible measures be taken to keep the father alive.
This is clearly a situation in which there is no “right” answer or easy solution. It may be that the only option is one that is “less wrong” than other choices. Since each individual is unique; each situation is unique; and each family is unique; these types of issues cannot be resolved with rules, guidelines or checklists.
Instead, care givers must undertake the difficult process of working with their colleagues, the individual, and the family to find the appropriate resolution. As medical advances keep complex care residents alive long enough to experience increasing levels of acuity, these types of situations are arising more often.
Johnson undertook to develop a framework staff could use when facing these difficult questions. The framework involves health care professionals, family and the individual concerned in seeking the best solution for a specific situation.
SHARING THE RESOURCE
As the complexity of care increases, resources for ethical decision making will be in increasing demand to ensure care givers provide the best options to the elders in residential care. Louise’s project is being integrated into all 12 complex care homes owned by Park Place Seniors Living, including Cerwydden Care Home and Sunridge Place in Duncan.
Louise Johnson has also been invited to present the ethical decision-making framework to the Alberta Continuing Care Association’s annual conference; at the Interior Health Residential Care Forum; and to the Fraser Health Residential Services Administrators’ Committee.
The BC Care Providers would like to extend a warm congratulation to Louise Johnson and Park Place Seniors Living for their terrific efforts, and leading innovation within the health care sector.
BC Care Award Nominations Now Open!
We also encourage members to submit their nominations for the 2015 BC Care Awards. Recognition is awarded in three categories including Innovation of the Year, BC Care Provider of the Year, and the Long-Service Excellence Award.
Nominations are being accepted through our easy-to-use online application system. For more information about the three awards or to nominate, visit here.
For a recap of the inaugural BC Care Awards attended by over 140 MLA’s, BCCPA Members, and stakeholders in Victoria, BC click here.