Member Spotlight: Ian E. Lancaster; End-of-Life Care

Ian Lancaster is a third-generation Rotarian who has contributed significantly to Rotary International’s Disease Prevention and Treatment Area of Focus.  He considers himself a “small ‘m’ mediator,” because he does not consider mediation to be his main profession.  Instead, he works with patients and their family members negotiating treatments and assisting with planning the best ways for end-of-life care.  Ian is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Hospice Palliative Care.

The Beginnings of His Career

Ian started his nursing career in psychiatry when he was 22.  He was handpicked for a special unit working with drug abuse and behaviour problems in young adults.  The choice of nursing was a challenging one for a man back then, but his mother and an aunt were both nurses and good role models.  He worked with patients who were dealing with “suicide attempts, drug abuse, acting out, cutting; a bit of a challenge. You have to be straightforward, no messing around, he explained.  Following psychiatry, he worked in several different areas: orthopedics, cardiac care, oncology, and lastly, community nursing.  It wasn’t until he cared for a palliative client that he found his calling. My first patient was the one who made the light bulb go on for me and I realized that this was what I needed to do.”  He was one of the first students at the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, created by two Canadian pioneers in the area of palliative medicine.  This led to further studies in a number of universities in Canada and abroad.  After a period of working in the community, he started his own private practice.   Ian has had a very fulfilling career in hospice palliative care discipline for over 30 years.

His experiences have certainly taught him the skills of mediation. “Mediation is something that happens daily,” he said.  Being able to communicate effectively and navigate challenging and difficult conversations is very important whether you are discussing treatment options with clients, or at a Rotary Club or district level, and all the way up the hierarchy of any organization.  His Rotary District 7070, most recently supported a project raising $45,000 with partner CUSO International Canada providing birthing kits to new midwives in Ethiopia, after conducting an onsite needs assessment in April 2019.

MBB Canada’s Creation

It was a breakout session at the Rotary World Peace Conference 2016 in Ontario, California that connected Ian with MBBI members Steve Goldsmith and Dana Moldovan.  They were sharing the idea of peace mediation training through the vehicle of Rotary’s Vocational Training Teams. As a result, and a belief in the work of peace mediation training, he helped write the global grants connecting Rotary and MBBI in the International Peace Training Institutes (IPTI) in Istanbul, Turkey, Jakarta, Indonesia, and Bogota, Colombia.  One of Ian’s ongoing projects since 2016 has been setting up the Canadian chapter of MBBI and having it recognized as a legal entity.

He explains the service partner relationship between MBBI and Rotary International as “the collaboration of two organizations at the heart of a movement toward global peacebuilding through advocacy, consultations, and capacity building.  Their commitment to peacebuilding answers a new challenge: how can they achieve a perspective of lasting change?  It’s through programs like the IPTI, training for women from conflict zones on the skills of mediation, taking the skills learned back to their home countries, and sharing those skills.  That along with the Peace Conversation Facilitation program, a key initiative designed by MBBI for Rotarians to engage in positive peace within their own clubs and communities through facilitated conversations and dialogue that will move the peace mediation dialogue forward.”  

Ian has shared his experiences and skills with nursing practitioners in Trinidad and Tobago, Japan, USA, Canada, and elsewhere. His work with Rotary is very fulfilling and he believes in the global impact of what Rotary has accomplished. Currently, he is interested in getting involved with mediation projects in Cameroon. “And it is much like what I’ve done in my nursing career.  Through Rotary I have gone to other countries and shared my skillset in end-of-life care. I feel that as a global citizen and a member of Rotary International and MBBI, and in my vocation as a nurse, we must learn all we can, share our knowledge and experiences with health care providers, mediators and all people of goodwill wherever we can because we are people building peace.”

Article by Kylea Shropshire, MBBI Writer