Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Palliative care hospice needed

On any given day in Timmins, there are 20 to 30 people struggling in the final days of their lives, who could use palliative care hospice services.
It’s one of the key factors in why a feasibility study has been commissioned to look into a palliative care hospice to comfort the dying, in Timmins.
The Timmins Hospice Palliative Care Action Team announced the plan on Friday at a news conference. The study will be carried out by Christine Leclair Planning and Consulting of Timmins.
Andre Paradis of Horizon Timmins Palliative Care Inc., says “hospice palliative care is a philosophy of care” that can take many forms.
“I think for most of us, when we think of hospice, we tend to think of a stand-alone residential hospice, but it can be provided in a variety of settings or even in a long-term care facility,” said Paradis.
“You can have hospice palliative care within the home or in the hospital or in a residential hospice.
Joan Ludwig, of the Porcupine VON, who chairs the team, says the need for palliative care has become urgent.
“This is an initiative that is very timely and very critical for us to address.”
Timmins and District Hospital (TDH) administrator Esko Vanio agreed. He told the news conference that the demand for hospice palliative care in Timmins was identified in studies done in 2004 and again in 2006.
Vanio says the recent overcrowding at TDH makes the concern more pressing.
“Obviously there have been challenges in the few weeks since the end of November in looking after palliative care patients at the same time you’re looking at an over-capacity situation in the hospital,” said Vanio.
“And its very important that we have the services enhanced in the community where patients and their loved ones want to have that care in their homes or in other facilities, other than the hospital, in their last few weeks.
Family physician and team member Patrick Critchley said palliative care needs are urgent across Canada, especially in remote and rural areas.
“Most Canadians would prefer to die at home, or to stay at home as long as possible, during their terminal illness,” said Dr. Critchley.
“Part of what this project is about is trying to help those patients meet their wishes,” he added.
Consultant Christine Leclair says she expects to have the study complete by the end of April.
Although different members of the team have different ideas of what sort of hospice would be best for Timmins, Leclair says all ideas will be explored.
“I think initially the idea is to get a good grasp of the models that are actually out there -- get a good understanding of the capital, operational funding sources in the community and try to figure out what makes the most sense,” she said.
With respect to funding for a hospice, the team said community support would be required, but funding is also expected from Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

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