2024 Award of Excellence in Paediatric Palliative Care: Amanda MacLennan

Rebecca Williams, Amanda MacLennan and Rick Firth.

The recipient of the 2024 Award of Excellence in Paediatric Palliative Care is Amanda MacLennan. Here’s a sample of what Amanda’s nominators said about her:

Amanda MacLennan has become known widely at SickKids as the community clinician who goes “above and beyond” for paediatric palliative care patients. Amanda always brings her passion and leadership for exemplary palliative care, specifically paediatric palliative care, in the community with her to the Brameast Family Health Organization (FHO). She is committed to ensuring that paediatric patients, not just adults, can have the opportunity to die peacefully at home. Amanda was instrumental in supporting her team to become one of the first adult palliative care teams to provide 24/7 care to SickKids patients in 2010, long before many other regions were willing to do so. In fact, the leadership shown by Amanda and the Brameast FHO, played a key role in motivating other adult palliative care clinicians to partner with our team.

Since that first referral 13 years ago, Amanda has cared for over 60 SickKids patients ranging in age from newborns to adolescents. Amanda always works collaboratively to deliver care at home even in some incredibly complex situations. Our patients’ support in the Brampton community has grown significantly under Amanda’s leadership. Due to her advocacy, pediatric patients in Brampton not only have access to medical palliative care support, but also Child Life and patient navigator/social work support from the local hospice. She has also worked tirelessly to secure subsidized medications from a local pharmacy for families of children in need.

Amanda demonstrates her excellence in providing paediatric palliative care through her understanding of how paediatric palliative care is a holistic approach that also includes maximizing the time a family has left and focusing on quality of life. She has excellent clinical skills and sound judgment, making her not only a trustworthy partner in care, but also a mentor for physician and nursing colleagues. Anytime a child or family shares with her a wish or upcoming celebration, she will move mountains to ensure that whatever they are hoping for will happen. I have endless stories of ways in which she has committed herself to fulfilling children’s wishes, including sitting outside of a school graduation ceremony to reassure a family that support was just minutes away, or dog sitting a family’s puppy on short notice so that they could take one last-minute family trip while their child was well enough to travel. The stories of Amanda saving the day and helping families create lasting memories are endless, leaving our whole team in awe.

It is unexpected and unique to find a community (adult) palliative care provider who has done so much to advance the field of paediatric palliative care.

The HPCO Award of Excellence in Paediatric Palliative Care recognizes individual excellence, innovation, leadership and outstanding contributions in the field of paediatric hospice and palliative care, and is awarded to a clinician, researcher, or administrator working in pediatric palliative care within the Province of Ontario.

The award was presented at our Awards Gala on June 10, 2024, which occurred during our Annual Conference.  The 2024 conference theme was Palliative Care Everywhere. Building on the 2023 conference theme of Now is the Time, Palliative Care Everywhere underscores the importance of a palliative approach to care being available in all settings where people die. Despite the progress we have made, many people do not have equitable access to quality, integrated, patient-centred, sustainable hospice palliative care services. Whether at home, in hospice, in long-term care, in hospital, group homes, prisons, shelters, or unhoused, palliative care must be available in all settings and for all people.

Read more about HCPO2024 and the Awards Gala.