​​Image of nurse holding patient's hand​​​
​End-of-life decisions can be emotionally challenging for patients, ​​families and staff alike, but the hope is to provide dignity and comfort in death. (Photo: UHN) ​


More than half of all deaths in Canada occur in a hospital, with some patients ending up in an intensive care unit on life support.  Yet the majority of Canadians tell us that they do not want to die in a hospital or receive life-sustaining therapies at the time of their death.

How do we begin the conversation about dying so that we can honour patients' last wishes? How do we "normalize" death not as failure of treatment, but as a normal part of life?  How does modern medicine shift from life-prolonging, curative care to comfort care when a patient is dying?

In her three-part series, "A Better Death", Sharon Kirkey, senior health and medical reporter for Postmedia News, examines these questions with patients and medical experts across Canada.

Featured in these stores are UHN palliative care and ICU physician Dr. James Downar and Dr. Heather Ross, Medical Director, Cardiac Transplant Program and the Ted Rogers and Family Chair in Heart Function, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, who discuss why it is so difficult for physicians to talk about death. Patients and families tell us how they think about and prepare for that final moment, and what makes a difference for them.  And MSICU Nurse Manager Denise Morris and Spiritual Care Professional Derek Strachan, Toronto General Hospital, tell us about the toll these difficult end-of-life decisions – often made in emotionally-wrenching circumstances – take on families and staff alike.

To read the series, follow the links below:

A Better Death - Part One

End of life care: doctors, machines and technology can keep us alive, but why? 

A Better Death: Part Two

End of life care: A shift to living well before dying       

A better death: Part Three

End of life care: Creating an exit strategy 


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