New initiative helps over 16,000 healthcare providers gain critical knowledge about palliative care during COVID-19

September 18, 2020 – With the need for palliative care at a crisis point in Canada and COVID-19 adding unprecedented new challenges, an innovative initiative has launched to build capacity and promote earlier, more effective and more compassionate care.

Bridging HOPE (Helping Others through Palliative care Education) is an industry-first collaboration between Pallium Canada, a national non-profit organization focused on building professional and community capacity to help improve the quality and accessibility of palliative care in Canada, and Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd., a company committed to developing solutions beyond breakthrough medication to improve health care and change patient experience.

The new initiative will equip more healthcare providers with the skills and tools to provide better palliative care and support to patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families. What began as a face-to-face education opportunity leveraging Pallium Canada’s Learning Essential Approaches to Palliative Care (LEAP) courses quickly grew to include a series of free webinars in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand for the sessions has been swift and remains ongoing; in just six months, the Bridging Hope “COVID-19 Palliative Care Connect Initiative” has held 19 live webinars, attended by over 5,300 health providers with over 16,000 recorded video views.

“This innovative initiative addresses an urgent need, magnified by COVID-19, that will only increase as the population ages and more people live with life-limiting, chronic illnesses for prolonged periods. It has the potential to significantly improve the way these patients are cared for, and also strengthen the provider-patient role,” says Dr. José Pereira, Founder and Scientific Officer, Pallium Canada

Research from the Journal of Cancer Education shows that practicing physicians do not feel adequately prepared to care for patients with complex chronic or life-limiting illness, but can improve their competency by pursuing continued education, such as Pallium Canada’s LEAP courses. A better understanding of palliative care and some basic competencies will enable physicians to identify when patients may benefit from this care and will increase early activation of palliative care. Learning this approach brings additional skills that benefit patients and the health care system, including interdisciplinary collaboration and teamwork, better communication and compassion, more holistic whole person care, and better use of healthcare resources.

“The Bridging HOPE COVID-19 Connect Initiative has provided timely information and skills to the health care teams leading the response to COVID-19,” says Jeffrey Moat, CEO, Pallium Canada. “The initiative has contributed to frontline health care professionals’ preparedness and resilience to manage palliative care during the pandemic by supporting the urgent need for access to real-time information.”

“As a family-owned business, Boehringer Ingelheim is focused not only on helping patients and their families, but also on contributing to health system quality improvement. The Bridging HOPE initiative is an important part of our effort to foster innovative change and improve the health of Canadians,” says Andrea Sambati, President and CEO, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd.

Both patients and physicians hold preconceived notions of palliative care. According to experts, palliative care is often mistaken for end-of-life hospice care but should be regarded as a critical early intervention at the time of diagnosis of a life-limiting illness, with the goal of helping patients live well until the end of life.

Early access to palliative care has been shown to be effective in reducing emergency department visits and intensive care unit stays at the end of life, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. In some cases, palliative care practices not only improve a patients’ quality of life, but how long they live as well. Taken together, the palliative care approach is aligned with the wishes of most Canadians living with a life-limiting illness, who want to remain independent and receive the care they need at home or in their community, rather than spend their final days in a hospital.

Bridging HOPE is currently in phase one of a multi-phase commitment to transform frontline health care professional practice across all settings of care to help provide palliative care to patients and families facing life-limiting illnesses in a more timely and effective way.

About Pallium Canada
Pallium is a national, evidence-based organization focused on building professional and community capacity to help improve the quality and accessibility of palliative care in Canada.

About Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd.
Making new and better medicines for humans and animals is at the heart of what we do. Our mission is to create breakthrough therapies that change lives. Since its founding in 1885, Boehringer Ingelheim is independent and family-owned. We have the freedom to pursue our long-term vision, looking ahead to identify the health challenges of the future and targeting those areas of need where we can do the most good.

As a world-leading, research-driven pharmaceutical company, more than 51,000 employees create value through innovation daily for our three business areas: Human Pharma, Animal Health, and Biopharmaceutical Contract Manufacturing. In 2019, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net sales of 19 billion euros. Our significant investment of almost 3.5 billion euros in R&D drives innovation, enabling the next generation of medicines that save lives and improve quality of life.
We realize more scientific opportunities by embracing the power of partnership and diversity of experts across the life-science community. By working together, we accelerate the delivery of the next medical breakthrough that will transform the lives of patients now, and in generations to come.

The Canadian headquarters of Boehringer Ingelheim was established in 1972 in Montreal, Quebec and is now located in Burlington, Ontario. Boehringer Ingelheim employs approximately 600 people across Canada.