Clinical Ethics: End of Life Care

Caring for the Body, Mind and Spirit

St. Joseph’s has a long and strong tradition of providing compassionate care - body, mind and spirit.

Medical advances have brought enormous improvements in the treatment of many conditions and injuries, terminal illnesses, chronic illnesses and the array of complications that come with them. Though advances in care can help people manage illness, death is our common human fate. 

How, when, and where we die has changed profoundly in the past 50 years. Because of advanced medical practices individuals can make end-of-life choices regarding life- sustaining care or the decision to end medical strategies.

St. Joseph’s supports individuals making informed decisions about their end-of-life care. This includes talking with family, planning ahead when possible, and deciding when to decline or withdraw treatment (to allow natural death).

St. Joseph’s is a Roman Catholic health care organization, one of 125 across Canada. As such, we respect life from conception to natural death. We consider life a gift and also know that every life comes to an end. We provide end-of-life care and understand some individuals may want to explore medical assistance in dying (assisted suicide and euthanasia) as one of their options.

As a Catholic institution, medical assistance in dying will not occur at any St. Joseph’s location.

Decisions about end-of-life care often require weighing the benefits and burdens of treatment options for the person receiving care. Such decisions take into account the person’s expressed wishes, his or her physical and emotional condition such as excessive pain, suffering, expense or other serious inconvenience, as well as the person’s culture, religion, personal goals, relationships, values and beliefs.

We continue our long tradition of providing excellent care, including palliative care, chronic disease management and mental health care, including suicide prevention, while easing the burden of chronic pain and working with patients and families in their end of life care planning. We have a highly specialized palliative care unit and team at Parkwood Institute. This expert team provides support to many St. Joseph’s programs.

Palliative care, as a philosophy of care, is the combination of active and compassionate therapies intended to comfort individuals and their support communities who are facing the reality of impending death.

Last updated: Wed, 2016-10-12 10:46