LIVINGMYCULTURE.CA –Conversations about care, culture and spirituality at end of life

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“In Islam we’re preparing to die every day, because nothing is guaranteed… you pray that you don’t die a death that is hard, you pray that you don’t die a death where you cannot take care of yourself. This is what most Muslims and Somalis fear…We don’t talk about these things, seriously it’s seen as shameful. We can’t even say I want to take care of my parents if anything happens to them.” – Hodan Nalayeh, Somali-Canadian Journalist

Immigrants, refugees and Indigenous people are commonly underserved in healthcare. Quality palliative care helps people honour their culture, traditions and spirituality. Yet, there are few cultural supports for people living with advanced cancer and other illness and fewer still for the health providers caring for them. To help improve quality of life and care that is culturally safe and inclusive, Canadian Virtual Hospice and a team of researchers, health providers, patients and families developed LivingMyCulture.ca – conversations about care and culture. Funding for LivingMyCulture.ca was provided by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.

This video series, the largest of its kind in the world, shares the lived experience of sixty-four people from eleven cultures. Stories about traditions, rituals and spirituality, experiences of care, after death ceremonies and grief are shared in more than 600 video clips. The storytellers include those living with advanced illness, family members, health providers, and cultural and spiritual leaders.

Hear stories from:

  • Hamayun, who came to Canada from Pakistan in 2007. Hamayun’s wife died of cervical cancer in 2014, their daughter was a teenager and their son was only two-years old.
  • Maryam, a nurse and yoga teacher who lives between Canada and Iran. She is a caregiver to her husband who is living with metastatic stomach cancer.
  • Esel from Toronto, who came from the Philippines in 2005. She assists newcomers to Canada, in particular live-in caregivers and other migrant workers.
  • Louis from Vancouver, who came from Hong Kong and cared for his father at the end of his life. He volunteers at a local hospice, helping members of the Chinese community.
  • Giovanni Marotta a geriatrician in Toronto who cares for patients in the community, in hospital and in long-term care facilities.

There are videos in eleven languages: English, Af Soomaali, Amharic, Cantonese, Farsi, Hindi, Italian, Mandarin, Punjabi, Tagalog and Urdu. These narratives empower and support patients and families and serve as a rich educative tool for health providers wishing to improve the delivery of culturally safe and inclusive care.

Canadian Virtual Hospice is grateful to those who shared their very personal stories in the service of others.
Canadian Virtual Hospice (virtualhopsice.ca and portailpalliatif.ca) is the most comprehensive online source of evidence-based information on advanced illness, palliative care, loss and grief in the world (Fassbender, 2015). It serves people living with advanced illness, family members, health providers, educators and researchers.

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