Kastner is an expert in helping families achieve their “Best Endings” by helping them understand their end of life choices and impact.
In preparation for her upcoming book, Death Kills And Other Things I’ve Learned From The Internet, Kastner accompanied Dr Sandy Buchman on home palliative visits to learn more about how people process what is happening when their loved one is dying. Kastner knows from personal experience, whether you’re a regular person or someone who works professionally in health care, “anyone can find themselves feeling stunned and unsure when they’re faced with making complicated and rushed medical decisions for a dying family member.
It’s my purpose to help people navigate their loved one’s end of life medical choices, when all they really want is a miracle.”
As a result of medical advancements, people who are themselves living longer with heart or lung disease, kidney failure, or dementia are being asked to make their end of life wishes known, but they have little knowledge of the medical terminology and understanding the impact of decisions that may lie ahead.
A recent study by Stanford University showed that one of the key issues for patients talking to doctors about end of life plans, is medical interpretation. 99.9% of doctors encountered barriers for having end-of-life conversations, with 86% rating them as very challenging.
As a result of her win, Kastner, who has previously been published in Journal of Palliative Medicine, Canadian Medical Association Journal and other peer-reviewed journals, will be undertaking a partnership with Women’s College Hospital (WCH) in Toronto beginning this month, to have her person-focused website on death and dying reviewed by users, aligned with National Advance Care Planning Day on April 16 using the hashtag #nhdd.
Dr. Betty Chen, Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto, championed Kastner’s site BestEndings.com in a ‘Dragon’s Den’-type pitch session that ultimately was awarded the grand prize of business development project support. “Women’s College Hospital is leading the way by hosting a project like this. Working together is the first step to creating a mutual understanding of improving patient-doctor end of life conversations and being able to care for and treat patients in the best way possible. Kathy has a history of creating award-winning patient-centered education: she brings a ‘layperson’s perspective to end of life issues, along with curating evidence-based resources and an electronic Advance Directives form.”
Known as the recognized layperson in the international community of professionals in death and dying, Kastner creates insightful and compassionate content to spark conversations for medical and healthcare organizations around the world, including Mayo Center for Innovation blog , and while “death & dying” are no laughing matter, Kastner states in her TEDx YorkU talk that she’d like to “Exit Laughing”.
Kastner has helped more than 500 people over 15+ years in the field, and worked with doctors on knowledge mobilization since 1998.
Harvey A. Skinner, a medical professional himself (PhD, CPsych, FCAHS, Dean, Faculty of Health, York University) also appreciates the resources and information Best Endings provides “Having worked closely with my mom Noreen during the final stages and now helping my 92 year old Aunt Jean (feisty and living in her apartment), I appreciate the resources that you have brought together. I will pass along the website to my children (yes: I have my Advance Directive in place) and colleagues at York U.”
“[Her website] is rich with resources and very comprehensive. A safe place to have a discussion.” says Dr. Marcia Sokolowski, about the end of life information and conversations loved ones find themselves thrust into having, as seen in her professional practice as Co-Director of Ethics at Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, and a member of the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics.
On May 12 & 13, Kastner will be attending and reporting on social media, from the California Compassionate Choices Summit, using the hashtag #AdvanceCarePlanning
Kastner will be interviewing professionals in the field of dying and death, and welcoming stories from those who have learned about end of life from the internet for her book Death Kills And Other Things I’ve Learned From The Internet, to be published in early 2017.
The primary communities and conversations she’s found helpful for people include the #hpm tweetchat, that stands for her focus of hospice and palliative medicine.
More information about Kathy Kastner touring home visits and speaking can be found on her website at http://www.bestendings.com/