Dr. Michele Chaban is an internationally reknowned thanatologist. Michele completed her PhD at the University of Wales in 1997 specializing in end-of-life care. She currently is a PhD supervisor at University of Wales. She mentors people around the world both clinically and academically. She has been asked for consultation on end-of-life issues globally.
Michele's initial training was as a theologian and she completed her undergraduate studies in Humanities and English Literature at York University, Toronto. She then did several years of graduate studies in theology and social work at University of Toronto. Her social work specialization was oncology and hospice palliative care.
Her clinical work with the dying , their families and professional caregivers has focused on the subjective experience of living with a life threatening illness, of dying, death and how people conceptualize "living" after death has taken place. Her theoretical work has been distinctly different from Health Science's objective thinking, yet Michele has worked in the center of Health Sciences for over 25 years.
Michele is particularly interested in aspects of suffering, healing and complementary therapies. Michele works from an integrated model of mind, body and spirit. She has conceptualized and developed methodologies of assessment and intervention that emphasize personhood, rather than disease or symptom based care. Her outcomes with people who were dying and their families were remarkable, enhancing both the quality of life and quality of death. She consistently raises questions of how health sciences can promote and enhance humanness especially in end-of-life care.
She is dedicated to humanizing perceptions of persons who live with disabilities, persons who are living with a life threatening illness, dying or those that suffer as they provide care. Unless the health care system is better able to respond to the needs of professional caregivers, then this valuable resource will become diminished and self-protective. Care for the caregiver has been an important aspect of Michele's advocacy.
Michele approaches care (care of the person) through a variety of modalities including visualization, mindfulness meditation, art and music therapy, story-telling and other narrative mediums.
Michele teaches locally, nationally and internationally. She offers workshops at University of Toronto and Wilfred Laurier University. She also has a private practice.
Michele's work in hospice palliative care was ground-breaking. She was an innovative developer of ideas, teams and programs. She raised thousands of dollars through lectures and donations to support programming for families at end-of-life.
Decades ago, Michele started some of the original standards research and then continued it with Dr. Frank Ferris and other colleagues. These became the National Guidelines for Palliative Care in Canada.
Michele believes that Hospice Palliative and End-of-Life care is its own field. To this end, she has always asked for accountable practices in the specialization. This includes inter-disciplinary care, team ethics, program development, educational initiatives and policies.