Found in Translation: Blue Roses – A Spotlight on Death and Dying in the Shadows

‘Knowledge Translation’ can take many forms, and local Ottawa documentary film makers Ed Kucerak and Dr. Danielle Rolfe have taken their craft to the next level with the recent world premiere of Blue Roses – an often difficult but endearing look at end-of-life care …

‘Knowledge Translation’ can take many forms, and local Ottawa documentary film makers Ed Kucerak and Dr. Danielle Rolfe have taken their craft to the next level with the recent world premiere of Blue Roses – an often difficult but endearing look at end-of-life care in the shadows of ‘traditional’ society.

Blue Roses headlined the Saturday program of the 29th edition of the One World Film Festival, the National Capital Region’s longest-running documentary film festival raising awareness on social justice, human rights and environmental issues. The film makers accompanied the hospice palliative care outreach team of Mission Hospice in Ottawa, with their unobtrusive camera documenting acts of resilience and a community finding strength in its members to bring care to those often suffering in silence.

Getting health and social care is a challenge for people living in rooming houses, who often face poverty, mental illness and addictions at the best of times – but these individuals are often completely invisible to the people who typically provide palliative and end-of-life care. As part of outreach activities, the Ottawa Mission, a champion of care for the homeless and marginally housed since 2001, provides all aspects of health and spiritual care, and works with several partner agencies in the National Capital Region to meet the needs of all patients. Their presence strengthens the community and brings meaning and dignity to people who may otherwise be forgotten.

Utilizing the power of the medium of film, the documentary provides a voice to patients and community members, highlighting the need to include lived experience into evidence-based decision-making/patient-centred care. The powerful shots showcase the size and depth of the issue – but also paint a hopeful and inspiring picture of the power of human contact and interaction in the face of obstacles (such as access to pain medication).

Received with a standing ovation at its premiere, the documentary deserves a broad audience – and will hopefully be picked up by mainstream distributors for TV and program cinema. In the words of an audience member: “Everyone deserves dignity – and society will continue to be judged by how it treats its poor and homeless.”

An abbreviated version of the documentary will be shown as part of the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly’s (NICE) Reel Aging series in collaboration with the University of Toronto’s Institute for Life Course and Aging at the Bahen Auditorium (40 St. George Street, Room 1170) on Wednesday, November 21, 2018 from 6:30 PM.

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day was on October 13th. This year’s theme was Palliative Care – Because I Matter!, providing the perfect opportunity to reflect and start thinking about your own values and (care) needs. You can find further information on advance care planning here.

Disclaimer: The author is a member of One World Arts, Box Office Co-lead for the One World Film Festival and chairs the End-of-Life Issues Theme Team for the NICE, a knowledge translation network dedicated to enhancing the care of older adults in Canada and abroad.

Written by: Christopher A. Klinger, PhD

Credit: Feature image was edited from a photo by Alexandru Acea on Unsplash.