McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

How should we plan for end-of-life care?

By Sue Johnston
Published: September 9, 2013
Scott Wooder Salim Yusuf
Ontario Medical Association president Dr. Scott Wooder (left) and Dr. Daren Heyland, a critical care doctor at Kingston General Hospital, will lead a two-day public session at McMaster on end-of-life planning and care.

Thinking about our final months, weeks or days isn’t something most of us are keen to dwell upon. But making plans now for that stage of life is something we should all be considering.

The McMaster Health Forum and the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) are working together to bring greater attention to the importance of end-of-life communication, decision-making and care amongst healthcare practitioners and the community at large. With an aging population and the growing burden of chronic diseases, the need for individuals, healthcare providers and the Ontario health system to discuss end-of-life care has become paramount.

On Sept. 10 and 11, two public events are planned to give the Hamilton and McMaster communities an opportunity to learn from various experts about what they should be doing long before they reach end-of-life. These sessions will help ensure that personal wishes and medical needs are adequately met.


On Sept. 10Dr. Daren Heyland will outline advanced care planning and help attendees understand its relevance in a talk entitled Talk now or forever hold your peace: The importance of communication at the end of life. Heyland, a critical care doctor at Kingston General Hospital, is a renowned expert in end-of-life research and care. He will also discuss the consequences of inadequate planning, current advanced care planning practices in Canada and how the quantity and quality of those can be improved. The talk will take place from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Learning and Discovery (Room 3020). All are welcome to attend. 


The second event on Sept. 11 will feature an interactive panel discussion called Planning Ahead: Improving End-of-life Communication, Decision-making and Care in OntarioThe event will be moderated by OMA president Dr. Scott Wooder, and will include speakers from various roles related to end-of-life care. The esteemed group of panellists will offer their personal thoughts on three key areas:

  • How to engage healthy adults in communications and decision-asking about their own wishes for care and treatment at end-of-life
  • How to ensure healthcare practitioners incorporate communications and planning for end-of-life long before their patients reach that stage
  • What can be done to ensure the health system is capable of meeting the end-of-life care and wishes of citizens in Ontario.

The event will take place from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Health Sciences Centre (Room 1A1). The audience will have the chance to pose general questions to the panel or direct their questions to specific individuals.


The two public events have been organized in conjunction with a day-long, invitation-only stakeholder dialogue at the McMaster Health Forum, at which representatives from key health, social and research sectors will deliberate about the challenges in communicating, decision-making and care at end-of-life.

The dialogue is funded by the Labarge Optimal Aging Initiative at McMaster and the OMA. The two public events were also made possible with support from the Labarge initiative.

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