Often in palliative care calls, the family ends up being the patient.~ Canadian paramedic

Some end-of-life calls will be more difficult than others. This module provides guidance for some of the more challenging situations you may encounter and offers suggestions for how you might navigate in these circumstances.

In spite of your best efforts, things won’t always go as well as you (or the family) would have liked. At these times, you may need to “dig deep” in order to draw upon your professional skills and personal supports. If you find you have lingering questions or concerns, you may need to make time to reflect on the call or debrief, formally or informally, with colleagues. Attending to yourself will not only be to your benefit but will ultimately benefit everyone around you, whether they are your patients and families or your own circle of colleagues, friends and family.

For addtional information, see Module 7, Responding to the Stresses of Paramedicine and Module 8, Opportunities for personal growth. 

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  1. Describe common challenging interpersonal situations that paramedics may encounter when providing care for patients receiving palliative and end of life care.

  2. Highlight clinical situations that may occur, including terminal hemorrhage, delirium, seizures, and breathing changes and secretions at end of life.

  3. Summarize additional considerations for palliative care events involving pediatrics and medical assistance in dying (MAID) situations.

  4. Identify the strategies and techniques that you can employ during complex situations.

NOTE to Learners: 

These modules have been developed to apply to students as well as veteran paramedics. 

Throughout the modules, you’ll find suggested phrases to use in conversations with patients and families. Some of the language isn’t common to paramedic practice. Integrating this new language in palliative care calls will help you establish relationships, have difficult conversations and provide support.