Extending Palliative Approaches to Care Beyond the Mainstream Health Care System

Categories: Care, Education, Featured, and Research.

This article was published on Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. on April 25, 2022.

By Courtney Petruik, PHD (C) and Simon Colgan, MD, CCFP


Background: People experiencing houselessness (PH) endure worse health outcomes than their housed counterparts and often have inadequate care when nearing end of life. Innovative palliative care approaches are necessary when considering socially vulnerable populations.

Aim: Evaluate the implementation and early outcomes of the Calgary Allied Mobile Palliative Program (CAMPP) after the first four years of servicing people experiencing extreme social marginality.

Setting/Participants: Participants include CAMPP clients and service providers (SPs) who work adjacently to CAMPP in the social services/health sectors.

Design: This is a mixed-methods evaluation, including an SP survey (n = 31); client interviews (n = 5); collection of program metrics; and case note reviews.

Results: The CAMPP has served 128 clients to date. The CAMPP supported clients by connecting them to 62 services, programs, agencies, and/or resources totaling 485 connections. The most referred-to resource was for social support in the community for PH at 61 referrals. The second was for transportation with 57 referrals, followed by referrals to palliative and Home Care programs (n = 53 referrals). Another common referral was for food assistance with 30 referrals. The survey showed that 97% of SPs agreed that CAMPP is ‘‘an essential service in the area of palliative care.’’ Twenty-six of 30 (87%) ‘‘Strongly Agreed’’ or ‘‘Agreed’’ that their knowledge in working with people with life-limiting illnesses has improved since working with CAMPP. The SPs suggested that
the team should focus on referral clarity and improved communication with the wider health care team. Finally, clients reported high levels of satisfaction with CAMPP services. Clients also reported challenges navigating the complexity of care in the social/health services sector.

Conclusions: The CAMPP bridges the gap in care between health/social services. The CAMPP connects clients to community resources and is effective in adapting to client needs. This evaluation provides four recommendations to improve and build on the existing program.

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