3 Wishes Project – Helping to make meaningful memories at end-of-life

End of life conundrum for families with parents in ICUs

As her mother lay dying in a Southern California hospital in early May, Elishia Breed was home in Oregon, 800 miles away, separated not only by the distance but also by the cruelty of the coronavirus.  Even at times when family members cannot attend the end of life activities for a loved one, there are means of addressing this challenge. As her mother lay dying in a Southern California hospital in early May, Elishia Breed was home in Oregon, 800 miles away, separated not only by the distance but also by the cruelty of the coronavirus.  Unlike many families of dying COVID patients, Breed and her family were able to find some comfort in her mother’s final hours because of the 3 Wishes Project, a UCLA Health end-of-life program repurposed to meet the demands of the coronavirus crisis. In the U.S., where more than 120,000 people have died of COVID, it’s part of a wider push for palliative care during the pandemic.

At 5 p.m. on May 10, Mother’s Day, before Breed-Rabitoy’s life support was removed, more than a dozen family members from multiple cities and states gathered on a Zoom call to say goodbye. John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High,” one of her soft-rock ’70s favorites, played on speakers. Online, a chaplain prayed. 

  

The project was developed in Canada but co-launched at UCLA Health in 2017 by Dr. Thanh Neville, an intensive care physician who serves as 3 Wishes’ medical director. It aims to make the end of life more dignified and personalized by fulfilling small requests for dying patients and their families in the ICU.

“I would still say the majority of COVID patients die without families at their bedside,” Neville said. “There are a lot of reasons why they can’t come in. Some are sick or old or they have small kids. A lot of people don’t want to take that risk and bring it home.”

                                                      Overall Goal

To improve the quality of the dying experience for patients and their families

Start Up Guide

The 3 Wishes Project Start-Up Guide was developed as a tool to help clinicians to try to improve the quality of the dying experience in ICU and to assist those who are interested in starting the project or adapting it to their own site.

A study published by Neville and colleagues last year found that 3 Wishes is a “transferrable, affordable, sustainable program” that benefits patients, families, clinicians and their institutions. They calculated that the mean cost of a single wish, funded by grants and donations, was $5.19.


Email milo@mcmaster.ca for a free copy of the 3Wishes Project Start-Up Guide.









3 Wishes Project – Helping to make meaningful memories at end-of-life