New UVic Canada Research Chair Kelli Stajduhar wants death to be a better experience
By Stephanie Harrington
Kelli Stajduhar started her nursing career in Winnipeg at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Around the same time her mother was dying of lung cancer.
These two moments had a profound impact on Stajduhar.
“I had this moment when I said to myself, people should be able to have a better experience when they’re dying,” she says. “I thought, maybe a way to make sense of my mum’s death is to make sure people don’t go through the same experience my family went through.”
Stajduhar, recently named the University of Victoria’s newest Tier 1 Canada Research Chair (CRC) on Palliative Approaches to Care in Aging and Community Health, has been trying to move the needle around palliative and end-of-life care since.
Her work as a CRC will focus on three areas: formal and informal caregiving; palliative approaches to care for vulnerable populations, especially those affected by structural inequities such as racism and inadequate housing; and improving home and community-based care for an aging population.
Stajduhar hopes the CRC role will help bring awareness to the need for better home and community-based care for people coming to the end of their lives, and better support for their family members. She says this is particularly important for stigmatized populations, who have disproportionately higher rates of cancer and other chronic illnesses than the general population.
The ultimate goal for Stajduhar is to improve the quality of care and the quality of life of people living with progressive illness. One part of that goal is providing people with choice about where they would like to be cared for and die.
“Death isn’t a failure, it’s a part of what happens to every-body, it’s a part of life,” she says. “The more you can talk about it, the more comfortable you can get with it, so you can plan and prepare.”
Originally published by UVic News.