Opening Night: CBS Kelowna

“Holding space for possibilities in a time of uncertainty” – Carole Robinson, on her definition of hope.

Carole Robinson, from UBC Okanagan, gave the plenary talk last night to open the conference. She approached end-of-life issues from a relational ethics perspective. In particular, she concentrated on emphasizing the need conversations with families around advanced care planning. Robinson’s take on relational ethics was inclusive of both individualistic perspectives on autonomy and decision-making, in addition to relational views which emphasize human relationships as being crucial. For example, Robinson advised shifting the question from “what do you want” to “if you can’t speak for yourself, how would you guide your family to speak for you”? This question would thus open up the ethical space for a larger conversation that enables dialogue around options for care. This may include, for example, what would a do not resuscitate order (DNR) look like, and how successful a DNR would likely be. Robinson reported that most conceptions of interventions such as DNR come from popular medical television dramas which sensationalize high success rates. Although much of Robinson’s presentation has been an important topic of discussion for many years, her plenary was a call to action for medical professionals to begin the advanced care planning conversation with their patients and families.

Today, Thursday June 10, we look forward to the plenary session on child and youth welfare, and concurrent sessions on clinical equipoise, the ‘hidden curriculum’ in post-graduate ethics training for psychiatry residents, end-of-life issues, and autonomy and decision-making in plastic surgery.

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