Palliative care project aims to heighten public awareness
New federal funding aimed at helping increase palliative care services available at the community level is good news, say West Central Alberta palliative care and hospice caregivers.
Last week the Harper government announced $3 million funding for a national project called “The Way Forward: Moving Towards Community-Integrated Palliative Care in Canada.”
The undertaking will see the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA), and its member associations, including those in Alberta, focus on the development of community-based palliative care models that can be delivered in a variety of settings and by a range of care providers.
In announcing the project, CHPCA executive director Sharon Baxter said the funding will “help with the development of hospice palliative care at a community level that is more easily accessible to Canadians and their families.”
Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq added: “By examining different models of community integrated palliative care, identifying and sharing promising practices and putting forward strategies for implementing these models across Canada, this initiative can help to provide better outcomes to all Canadians.”
The project will, among other things, help provide tools and resources to make health-care providers and the general public better informed about end-of-life care.
It will also involve consultations with community palliative care associations about needs and plans, and will help provide training for a range of care providers such as doctors, nurses, and social workers so they can be “better prepared to recognize when palliative care services are appropriate.”
Kathy Kemmere, the chairperson of the Olds and District Hospice Society, says government support of palliative care, including this newly announced federal program, is good for the community at large.
“I think any steps by the government in supporting palliative care is a good idea,” said Kemmere. “Awareness and understanding of palliative care is the key before you do anything else, so I think it is awesome that they are willing to provide some funds in that direction.”
Increasing opportunities for training of people involved in providing palliative care is also a good step, she said.
“If you’ve never had any experience or training in that area (end-of-life care) it’s not something people are always comfortable with. I know that the nurses in the Olds and Didsbury and Sundre hospitals get excellent feedback from the patients for the care that they get in the palliative care,” she said.
Peggy Kadey, the president of the Sundre Palliative Care Association, echoed Kemmere’s comments, saying the funding to the CHPCA is a welcome development.
“This is a positive step and one that we have been advocating for,” said Kadey. “It has been Sundre Palliative Care Association’s goal to provide a choice for end-of-life care. We are fortunate to have an excellent palliative care facility within the hospital but once treatment is no longer an option, the dying should have the option of dying at home or in a hospice.
“We look forward to these developments and hope that they consider the unique problems of providing this care in rural areas.”
Details of exactly how much money each province will be receiving under the new program have yet to be announced.