Mixed Methods feasibility study of group peer support interventions to engage the public in ACP

Read more about the project here.

Advance Care Planning (ACP) encourages us all to be more actively involved in decision making about healthcare. Although ACP is something we can do on our own, we often require support from others. Most studies in ACP have focused on experts within the healthcare system.

We trained members of the public who volunteer at community organisations to support group ACP activity sessions. The sessions aimed to inform, promote conversation and break down barriers and stigmas around these conversations. We invited older adults and their caregivers and families to attend the sessions.

As the sessions were run by trained volunteers rather than experts, we looked at the volunteers’ experiences. We asked them how they felt running the sessions, what worked and what needs to be improved. We also studied how best to encourage older adults to come to the sessions. Lastly, we looked at whether the activities helped older adults be more involved in ACP activities and conversations. We looked at whether the sessions increased their comfort with the conversation, helped them identify what matters to them and helped them talk about it with their family and healthcare providers.

Doris Barwich, MD, CCFP (PC) is the Executive Director for the BC Centre for Palliative Care – a provincial hub for innovation in Advance Care Planning & Serious Illness Conversations, integration of a Palliative Approach to Care and Compassionate Communities. Doris is a Clinical Associate Professor at UBC and the Co-Chair of the Provincial Palliative Care Advisory Committee. She has led several regional, provincial, and national initiatives in the area of Advance Care Planning and innovative approaches to palliative care delivery. She is Past-President of the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians and a member of Canadian Researchers at End of Life (CARENET).

Eman Hassan, MD, MPH is the Director of Public Health Initiatives at the BC Centre for Palliative Care, where she is leading its Advance Care Planning and Compassionate Communities Initiatives. Eman has more than 15 years of experience leading the implementation and evaluation of population health and community-based initiatives. In addition to her medical degree, Eman holds a Master of Public Health from University of British Columbia and completed a CIHR-funded fellowship in Health Services Research and Evaluation. Eman published in leading medical journals and received notable awards from academic and professional institutions for her research which contributed to improvement in community health. One of her recent publication is a White Paper she wrote for the BC Centre for Palliative Care in 2015 titled: “The Public Health Approach to Palliative Care”. In this paper, Eman describes several successful international models that utilize public awareness and community engagement and development strategies to address palliative care issues.