Northern Nova Scotia Palliative Care Physician Receives Honourable Sharon Carstairs Palliative Care Award of Excellence in Advocacy

Nova Scotia Health Authority palliative care physician, Dr. David Henderson has been honoured as the 2017 recipient of the Honourable Sharon Carstairs Palliative Care Award of Excellence in Advocacy.

“David’s contribution to palliative care in Nova Scotia is significant. He is known for his passion, commitment and clinical expertise. He is actively involved in planning to strengthen palliative care throughout the health system and in communities,” says Tricia Cochrane, Vice-President of Primary Health Care and Population Health, Nova Scotia Health Authority. “I am delighted that he is being recognized for his local, provincial and national work.”

Granted by the Quality End of Life Care Coalition of Canada (QELCCC), the award was established in 2012 to recognize individuals who have, at the national level, contributed to and had an impact upon the enhancement of the quality of life for individuals and their loved ones who are facing a life threatening illness and bereavement.

Dr. Henderson was presented the award earlier this year by Sharon Baxter, Executive Director of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association and Dr. Kathryn Downer, National Director for Pallium Canada. Pallium was created to improve the quality of hospice and palliative care services through the creation and sharing of peer-reviewed education, resources and clinical decision-making tools for interprofessional health care providers. In her remarks, Dr. Downer shared accolades from Dr. Henderson’s peers across the country:

• We celebrate David's advocacy for improving understanding of palliative care at all levels of government and all levels of personhood from the general public to the medical expert.

• David is a trailblazer who never loses faith or energy and keeps the patient and patient experience at the core of everything he does.

• David truly is a patient advocate and uses his tireless energy, humour and skill to ensure patients and families have the best end of life experience possible and receive the best care possible.

• David is also a tireless advocate for palliative care education for all healthcare practitioners and his research interests demonstrate that he advocates for, using the best possible person from all disciplines to ensure patients receive the most efficient and cost effective care possible.

Dr. Henderson is humble, quick to praise the teams he works with and grateful for the support of his family, including his wife and four children. His family has also embraced palliative care, with his parents and brother volunteering with hospices in New Brunswick and Alberta and his children helping out in various ways with the hospice in Truro. “Overall I have been very fortunate to have a very supportive family and colleagues who have allowed me to do the work I do. Everything I do has a team behind it,” he says.

Among his current roles, Dr. Henderson is the Medical Director of the Palliative Care Program in Colchester-East Hants, an Assistant Professor with Dalhousie University’s Department of Family Medicine, President of the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians and a long time board member of the Colchester East Hants Hospice Society. He is also a Past President of the Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association and a member of various other palliative and end of life committees, working groups and initiatives at local, provincial and national levels. He has previously been honoured with Cancer Care Nova Scotia’s 2011 Leadership Excellence Award and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Among his many contributions within Nova Scotia, Dr. Henderson pioneered the introduction of Pallium Canada’s LEAP Program (Learning Essential Approaches to Palliative Care) in Colchester- East Hants, which for several years has played a pivotal role in enhancing the skills, knowledge and comfort of local care providers, from many disciplines, in caring for palliative patients and their families. Building on these efforts, Dr. Henderson worked with Pallium to help see the LEAP for Paramedics program created and rolled out to 1,000 advanced care paramedics in Nova Scotia. This helped influence a new provincial program that has advanced care paramedics providing palliative care — including medications for anxiety and pain — to patients in their homes.


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