Conversations around Advance Care Planning involve many aspects of values and beliefs – and the role of spirituality in particular can often have a profound effect on these discussions. A recent workshop co-organized by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and the Manitoba Islamic Association provided an opportunity to reach out into the community to raise awareness of advance care planning from a spiritual perspective, with an informational workshop that was held within the Winnipeg grand mosque to provide a familiar and comfortable setting for discussing this important topic.

Dima Al-Sayed, a graduate dietitian at the Health Authority and a member of the Winnipeg Muslim community, was a driving force behind organizing the workshop. “I first learned about Advance Care Planning while I was a member of the Community Health Advisory Council, and I realized that if I had never heard of the concept, there must be so many other members of the Muslim community who hadn’t either.” She also recognized that an event held within a familiar space would be more likely to be attended by members of the community.

Dima worked with Tracy Thiele, Manager of Nursing Initiatives at Winnipeg Health Region and Adel Compton, the Region’s Director for Spiritual Health Services, to organize the event. They recruited Dr. Nazir Khan, a physician and respected member of the mosque, to be part of the workshop panel. “Finding a knowledgeable person is key to acceptance of these types of conversations,” she says. “Dr. Khan is well known in the Muslim community, and he has exceptional knowledge of the topic from an Islamic perspective.”

In a handout advertising the workshop, Dr. Khan noted that “most of us have not thought about what we want or what the Islamic guidance on such topics is…. there are so many questions that arise related to ourselves and our loved ones.” His handout provided detailed information about Islamic perspectives and guidelines with respect to Advance Care Planning.

The event was a great success both for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and the Manitoba Islamic Association, with over 60 community members attending. Those who attended engaged the speakers with great enthusiasm and thoughtful questions. “I think the panelists learned as much as the audience did,” says Dima. “The event had a great sense of positivity, and it was encouraging to see audience members from all ages in attendance.”