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Medics focus on ethics and long-term care

Ethical issues that arise over long-term care are being discussed by medical staff as part of Ethics Awareness Week.

Expert Christy Simpson, the head of the bioethics department at Dalhousie University, is working with staff from King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute until Saturday.

Medical workers and community partners will attend seminars, continuing education sessions and grand rounds until Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, Dr Simpson will lead a symposium for members of the ethics committee at the Bermuda Hospitals Board.

The public can visit the lobbies of MWI and the KEMH acute care wing and general wing throughout this week to learn more about ethics and long-term care.

Sharon Alikhana, the ethics committee chairwoman and director of palliative care, said: “With an ageing population worldwide, long-term care is an increasingly relevant topic. But it's not only the elderly who need this kind of care. Our younger adults with physical or learning disabilities, early onset dementia or other enduring illnesses may also need long-term support.

“There are community resources that can help some individuals maintain their independence rather than requiring residential care. These clients, their families and their service providers may also run into ethical issues surrounding their medical care and life decisions.”

Chantelle Simmons, the chairwoman of the ethics education subcommittee and chief of psychiatry, added: “Ethics is about making decisions based on a shared understanding of right and wrong. It's about doing the right things for the right reasons.

“Some of the ethical dilemmas those involved in long-term care might face include questions around whether an individual has the capacity to make decisions about their care, living situation, lifestyle or finances.

“For those who are seriously ill, ethical questions may arise about end-of-life decisions like advance directives, feeding and life support.”

The BHB ethics committee, which has about twenty members, assists clients, their families and healthcare professionals who are dealing with ethical issues around medical care.

The group formed a relationship with Dalhousie University's bioethics department more than a decade ago to provide training assistance.

The committee promotes awareness of ethical concerns at both hospitals, endorses medical ethics education, provides an ethics consultation service and produces guidelines on prominent issues that can help healthcare professionals to consider all aspects of controversial decisions.

The committee also reviews medical research proposals on request, and reviews hospital policies to ensure they are ethically sound.

The public can contact the committee on 291-HOPE (4673).

Advice on offer: the public can learn more about medical ethics by visiting the lobby of the acute care wing at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital this week (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published November 03, 2015 at 12:49 pm (Updated November 04, 2015 at 4:19 pm)

Medics focus on ethics and long-term care

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