What is Hospice and Palliative Care
Now a day’s more and more people are becoming more familiar with the term Hospice and Palliative Care. Hospice and Palliative care address end of life issues by focusing on the palliation of a terminally ill patient’s symptoms. The symptoms can be physical, emotional, spiritual or social in nature. Compared with the conventional medical system, the distinguishing character of hospice and palliative care is its patient-centered care instead of provider – centered care. This patient- directed care is integral and interwoven throughout the provided care and this philosophy is also reflected on its Medicare regulations. In Canada, Hospice and Palliative Care is the nationally accepted term to describe care aimed at relieving suffering and improving quality of life.
The modern Hospice Palliative care movement traces back to the 1960’s. Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement, opened the first Hospice in United Kingdom. This initiated an alternative approach to the solely cure orientated and impersonal approach of standard health care. During the last few decades there has been a growing realization that quality of life criteria should be defined by the person with the illness. This is as important a goal as prolonging life for its own sake. The philosophies of hospice care were introduced and implemented in Canada in the 1970s: in 1975 the first hospital based palliative care units were opened in both Montreal and Winnipeg.
Hospice of Waterloo Region
Hospice of Waterloo Region is a volunteer organization dedicated to providing comfort, care and support to people affected by life threatening illnesses. Services are provided in homes, hospitals or long term care facility settings. Last year, 750 families in the Waterloo Region received palliative care services.
Hospice of Waterloo Region also provides a Children’s Support Program, a Teen Support Program, a Bereavement Walking Group and other programs. The Children’s Support Program focuses on children aged 5-13 who are living with a family member with a terminal illness or for children who have recently lost a family member. The Teen Support Program is open to youth aged 14-17 who have lost a significant person in the last two years through illness or accident. The Bereavement Walking Group provides bereaved individuals with the opportunity to walk with others who are in similar circumstances and to receive the support of fellow walkers or volunteers.
Waterloo Wellington Hospice Palliative Community Care
In order to provide a full range of services in the home to individuals who have a terminal illness, the Waterloo Wellington Community Care Access Centre (CCAC), in partnership with healthcare professionals has put together Community Hospice Palliative Care Teams. These teams offer professional care and support to community residents who have a life-threatening illness.
The Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network provides funding and the Waterloo Wellington Community Care Access Centre coordinates the services. When a person’s medical diagnosis moves from attempting to cure the illness to end-of life care, they are in most cases referred by their primary physician to a Community Hospice Palliative Care Team. Teams or the CCAC can also be contacted directly for more information about how to access their services.
When a family member is gravely ill and at serious risk of death, it is one of the most difficult times a family will face. Achieving a balance between work and family life is important, and that is never more difficult than when a loved one is dying. Compassionate Care benefits allow people eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) to claim benefits when they take a temporary leave of absence from work to provide care or support for loved ones who are at significant risk of death. This benefit helps relieve the stress on families and improve the quality of care given to the gravely ill.
Each stage of life has its benchmark, from newborn to youth, to adult and on into senior years. Regardless of our paths, one thing we do wish for is a peaceful, easier and meaningful end of life journey. How do we make this come true? One of the approaches is hospice care: to improve our quality of life through medical and psychological care and coming to a place of being at peace. Hospice care helps not only patients; it is also there to provide support to family members. Therefore, hospice and palliative care not only meets the needs of social development and the aging population; it is also a demand in the evolution of human civilization.
Palliative Pain and Symptom Management Consultation Program (2002). The Fundamentals of Hospice Palliative care. ON.
Ferris et al., (2002). A Model to Guide Hospice Palliative Care: Based on National Principles and Norms of Practice.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA