New palliative care council aims to improve local care

Categories: In The Media.

The province’s palliative care system is fragmented and reactive, rather than proactive, says Dr. Denise Marshall, chair of Ontario’s Collaborative Palliative Care Clinical Council.

“Patients often do not receive the support and treatment they need to end life as comfortably as possibly because their health-care providers and families aren’t properly educated about palliative care,” Marshall said Wednesday.

“What needs to be considered sooner is whether the patient is likely to die within a year. If the answer is yes, the appropriate end-of-life care needs to be planned.”

These are some of the issues the Regional Hospice Palliative Care Program Council, which held its first meeting July 8, hopes to address.

The council draws on the expertise of 14 health-care professionals who will make recommendations about how to improve end-of-life care to the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network (LHIN).

The council, which includes doctors, nurses, administrators, academics and caregivers, plans to meet every month.

“We’re opening the dialogue with experts across the board to make the experience as special and beneficial as possible for the patient and his or her family,” Donna Cripps, LHIN CEO, said Wednesday.

In the upcoming months, the council will consider new programs and ideas that have been successful elsewhere in the province, as well as how the LHIN can best use its resources.

Palliative care is for adults and children who, according to their doctor, nurses and family, are likely to die within a year. Patients who need end-of-life care may have late-stage cancer, renal failure, Parkinson’s disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Older adults in palliative care may suffer from dementia and or significant decline related to aging.

There are six palliative care residences in Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand and Brant. Palliative care is also offered in hospitals and long-term care homes.

This article appeared in The Hamilton Spectator.