Mythbusting: World Day 2013

Categories: Care.

In Canada, there are still some myths that need busting: 

MYTH: Hospice and palliative care is just for people with cancer

FACT: All those who are diagnosed with a chronic life-limiting illness can benefit from hospice and palliative care

Many Canadians think that hospice palliative care is only useful for people dying from cancer, which is definitely incorrect! Many conditions can benefit from a palliative approach to care, including: heart, lung, liver, kidney, brain, and motor neuron diseases as well as very frail elders. In Canada, it is estimated that chronic diseases account for 70% of all deaths.[i]

Although only a small proportion of people will need intensive or tertiary palliative care provided by specialized palliative care teams, everyone faced with a life-limiting or life threatening illness could benefit from other aspects of palliative care. These include advance care planning, spiritual care, and bereavement. Being diagnosed as “close to death” can no longer be the trigger for initiating palliative care because too many people with life threatening illnesses who die “unexpectedly” will not receive the care that could enhance both their living and dying. Instead, a palliative approach could and should be integrated into care for people with chronic, life-limiting conditions and people who are frail and vulnerable to infections or falls that could hasten death.

This integrated palliative care should be provided by primary care, chronic care and long-term care practitioners and available early in the course of a disease (i.e. soon after diagnosis) and throughout the person’s illness trajectory.

The Quality End-of-Life Care Coalition of Canada has embarked on a catalyst project, a project whose goal is to change the way we all think about hospice palliative care and encourage health systems across Canada to implement a palliative approach to care. Why not help them bust this myth? Why not help all Canadians understand that the palliative approach to care improves quality at the end of life, no matter the illness?

This initiative has developed a framework that, once completed, will guide health care professionals, health systems leaders, program planners and others as they adopt an integrated palliative approach to care. It contains principles and action steps, best practices and other resources to help communities and organizations adopt the palliative approach to care across all settings of care. Please take a moment to read the framework and provide your feedback. Together we can ensure that Canadians dying from all illnesses can have the best palliative care possible.

[i] Rachlis, Michael.  Presentation to the Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN) Education Session, Toronto, Ontario, April 6, 2006

To find out more about World Day, please click here.

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