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The objectives of this article are, first, to document a unique process of research knowledge translation (KT), which the authors describe as the creation of “ethical safe space,” and, second, to document the narratives of forum participants and describe their interaction in a dialogue about vulnerability, the authority of physicians, and the perspective of people with disabilities on the policy.
Narrative data from qualitative interviews with individual key informants and focus groups were used to identify speakers with specific expertise on policy, disability perspectives, and bioethical issues, who were invited to participate in the Forum on Ethical Safe Space. The planning workgroup adopted a model for enabling representative participation in the public forum designed to reduce the impact of physical, sensory, financial, language, and professional status barriers. Using the transcripts and keynote speakers' printed texts, primary themes and patterns of interaction were identified reflecting the alternative perspectives. Through the development of a workshop on ethical, legal, and disability-related implications of professional policy guidelines developed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba, we provided a qualitative analysis of the discourse involving experts and disability community members supporting alternative positions on the impact of the policy statement, and discuss ethical, legal, and disability rights issues identified in the public debate.
Contested policy and ethical frameworks for making decisions about withdrawing and withholding life supporting treatment may influence both the perspectives of palliative care providers and patients referred to palliative care facilities. An innovative model for KT using a public forum that enabled stakeholders with conflicting perspectives to engage with ethical and professional policy issues asserting the physician's authority in contested decisions involving withdrawing or withholding life-supporting treatment, was a successful way to engage stakeholders supporting alternative positions on the impact of the policy statement and to discuss ethical, legal, and disability rights issues identified in the public debate.
Significance of results:
Discussion during the forum revealed several benefits of creating ethical safe space. This model of workshop allows space for participation of stakeholders, who might not otherwise be able to interact in the same forum, to articulate their perspectives and debate with other presenters and audience members. Participants at the forum spoke of the creation of ethical safe space as a starting point for more dialogue on the issues raised by the policy statement. The forum was, therefore, seen as a potential starting point for building conversation that would facilitate revising the policy with broader consultation on its legal and ethical validity.
The purpose of this study was to assess the extent to which vulnerability was present or heightened as a result of either disability or end-of-life policies, or both, when people with disabilities face end of life.
People with disabilities and policy makers from four Canadian provinces and at the federal level were interviewed or participated in focus groups to identify interactions between disability policies and end-of-life policies. Relevant policy documents in each jurisdiction were also analyzed. Key theme analysis was used on transcripts and policy documents. Fact sheets identifying five key issues were developed and shared in the four provinces with policy makers and people with disabilities.
Examples of heightened vulnerability are evident in discontinuity from formal healthcare providers with knowledge of conditions and impairments, separation from informal care providers and support systems, and lack of coordination with and gaps in disability-related supports. When policies seek to increase the dignity, autonomy, and capacity of all individuals, including those who experience heightened vulnerability, they can mitigate or lessen some of the vulnerability.
Significance of results:
Specific policies addressing access to community-based palliative care, coordination between long-standing formal care providers and new care providers, and support and respect for informal care providers, can redress these heightened vulnerabilities. The interactions between disability and end-of-life policies can be used to create inclusive end-of-life policies, resulting in better end-of-life care for all people, including people with disabilities.
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