Dying on the streets: UVic study examines palliative care for the homeless

Categories: Community Engagement.

University of Victoria researcher Kelli Stajduhar has been leading a study looking at palliative care options for the homeless after hearing stories from outreach workers about people dying in the streets.

“We would really like to think as a society that we care for our people, especially at the end of their lives,” she said.

“[But] we were hearing all kinds of stories, and of course, these service providers themselves feeling very, very distressed at the kinds of things they were witnessing.”

Poor relationship to health care providers

Stajduhar — a palliative care nurse — is a strong advocate for better quality end-of-life care, and she said that people on the streets face significant barriers to getting care.

For one, they might not be diagnosed properly or too late.

Many homeless individuals come into the emergency room in pain but leave early or are turned away, she said.

Eventually they are diagnosed, but it is too late.

“They’re finally diagnosed with an illness that’s so far advanced even if a treatment option was offered, there’s really no benefit.”      

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