Posted by Leigh Hewer on May 18, 2021
President Teresa introduced Assistant District Governor Dr. Carmen Larsen who spoke about Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). This has been a legal option for Canadians since 2016 and is publically funded in Canada. MAiD provides for the ability to plan your own death when faced with a grave diagnosis or prognosis. Dr. Larsen talk was about MAiD in the North Okanagan and was not about ethics or morality of this extremely personal choice.  MAiD has been available in the North Okanagan since 2016 and eligibility and options were broadened in March 2021. In 2016 there were 3 requests for this service and since then there have been a total of 1700 requests of which approximately 52% ask for and received the service; 45% used palliative care with 3% other.
To use the service the person must have a medical diagnosis and prognosis, be over 18 years of age and must be capable of informed consent. It is your choice and care is taken to ensure that you are not under any pressure to end your life, which would rule you ineligible. Other ways are looked at to relieve your suffering and it must be a serious and incurable disease/disability or in irreversible decline such as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Other consideration is that natural death will occur or the outcome of death is reasonably foreseeable.  You retain eligibility for waiver of final consent.
Safeguards include proof of identity, assessment and involvement of 2 physicians or nurse practitioners. Assessors are not a beneficiary of the person’s estate, independent witness (also not benefactors of estate), timing of request must be supported by diagnosis and cannot be part of an Advanced Care Plan. Service is provided by physician or nurse practitioner.  Interior Health has a MAiD Care Coordinator Center to assist with service.
MAiD can occur at home, in hospice or in hospital. In the North Okanagan approximately 48% are at home; 27% in acute care; 15% in hospice with 8% in long term care.