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Access to High-Quality Palliative Care Needs to Be a Priority in Canada

11 May 2017

Ottawa, May 10, 2017—Canada needs to develop enhanced palliative and end-of-life approaches that includes care in home, community, and long-term care settings. A survey of Canadians finds a strong majority feels individuals should have the right to receive end-of-life care in their home.

“Palliative and end-of-life care in Canada is evolving, with more Canadians dying outside of hospital settings than in the past, and this has implications for care provided in homes, communities, and long-term care settings,” said Louis Thériault, Vice-President, Industry Strategy and Public Policy for The Conference Board of Canada. “Changes to Canada’s health systems are needed in order to meet the current needs and wants of Canadians.”

Highlights

  • More Canadians are dying outside of hospital settings than in the past, and this has implications for care provided in homes, communities, and long-term care settings.
  • Future demand for palliative and end-of-life care services means governments and other stakeholders must develop workforce capacity.
  • Continued collaboration and sharing between governments and other stakeholders is needed to take the next steps in achieving timely access to high-quality palliative care for Canadians.

new Conference Board of Canada report summarizes the Palliative Care Matters initiative’s pan-Canadian consensus statement, which offers 20 recommendations on how Canada can improve access to quality palliative care. The report also outlines steps to move from recommendations to action.

They include:

  • Leverage opportunities in home and community care: Evidence suggests that there is great demand for palliative home care. Canada needs to immediately develop enhanced palliative and end-of-life capacity in home, community, and long-term care settings.
  • Workforce planning is essential: The future demand for palliative and end-of-life care services means governments and other stakeholders must develop workforce capacity.
  • Maintain engagement with patients and the public: Canadian patients and the public are integral to the planning for health care changes and improvements to palliative care. As caregivers are the main providers of palliative care in homes and communities, their input is essential. Canadians should be actively engaged in planning, implementing, and measuring change.
  • Build a better understanding of needs and expectations: Palliative and end-of-life care is changing, perhaps more than previously known. More evidence and insights into the palliative and end-of-life needs and expectations of Canadians are needed.
  • Adopt a strategic approach: While examples of high-quality hospice and innovative palliative care can be found across Canada, many were developed organically through local leadership and resources, and access is uneven within and across jurisdictions, with some populations significantly underserved. A strategic framework and plans can address some issues surrounding quality and access.

Financial contribution for the report, Palliative Care Matters: Fostering Change in Canadian Health, were provided by Health Canada and Covenant Health.

For more information visit The Conference Board of Canada.

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