Data Highlights State of Access to Palliative Care Across the Province.
Toronto, ON – Pallium Canada, a national non-profit organization specializing in palliative care training and education, has officially launched the Palliative Care Atlas for Ontario. This innovative resource aims to offer an unparalleled overview of palliative care services across the province, sharing critical data to both the Ontario government and health policy makers.
Joined by Cardus, a renowned non-partisan think tank, Pallium Canada released the results of the Pilot Study for the Central East region during a news conference at Queen’s Park today.
Jeff Moat, CEO of Pallium Canada, emphasized the need for such a resource, stating, “To date, there has been no single data repository or mapping of the state of palliative care in the country. Pallium Canada, in collaboration with health and education partners, will map out and chart a course for a strategic palliative care approach in the province that puts patients first.”
The Pilot Study reveals significant variations in palliative care services, highlighting areas with round-the-clock access to specialist clinicians and contrasting them with regions where such access is partial or non-existent. It also indicates the stark urban-rural divide – most urban family physicians do not provide home visits or after-hours coverage for palliative care, while their rural counterparts frequently do.
The majority of hospitals in Ontario have yet to fully adopt a palliative care approach and they lack a formal strategy to integrate the care into all hospital services. Less than 50 percent of hospital staff have received formal training in palliative care, even though they regularly care for patients with life-limiting illnesses.
Despite these disparities, there are signs of progress. The Central East region has an adequate number of hospital-based palliative care beds for its 1.5 million residents, though the need for hospice care is more acute, with at least 100 additional hospice residence beds required to meet the needs of an aging population.
Pallium Canada identified 7 hospice homes with 56 beds and recognized the early successes in integrating palliative care in long-term care facilities in the Central East region. This has gained momentum following the passage of the Fixing Long-Term Care Act, 2021 in which the province pledged the right to be provided with care and services based on a palliative care philosophy.
Pallium Canada has now completed its Pilot Study. Work is already underway in British Columbia and Alberta and the organization is now intensifying its efforts in Ontario to map services across the six new Ontario health regions. The complete Palliative Care Atlas for Ontario will be released in Spring 2024.
Learn more about the Canadian Atlas of Palliative Care – Ontario Edition.
“Far too many individuals still lack timely access to palliative care, and for those who do, it often comes very late, only in the final days and weeks of life. With the Palliative Care Atlas, we aim to equip policymakers, administrators, and healthcare leaders with a foundational assessment of palliative care’s current status across health regions. This is a crucial step towards informed decision-making for the integration and advancement of palliative care within our healthcare systems.”
– Jeff Moat
CEO, Pallium Canada
“The absence of a singular reporting source or comprehensive data repository has left a significant gap in our understanding of palliative care in Canada. Pallium Canada and Cardus’ initiative to develop the Palliative Care Atlas for Ontario is a critical step towards mapping access to palliative care services across different care settings and patient populations. This work is not only necessary but pivotal for enhancing the delivery of palliative care across the province.”
– Leonie Herx MD PhD CHE CCFP(PC) FCFP
Palliative Medicine Consultant Physician
“Accurate data is the cornerstone of effective decision-making. This tool will inform the Ontario government and enable them to ensure they meet their commitments, ensuring that every Ontarian who needs palliative care has better access to high quality services.”
– Ray Pennings
Executive Vice President, Cardus
About Pallium Canada:
Pallium Canada is a national, non-profit organization based in Ottawa. For over two decades, it has played a pivotal role in empowering healthcare organizations by offering palliative care education and resources to professionals in diverse care settings.
Cardus is a leading non-partisan think tank dedicated to fostering research and dialogue that strengthens society’s institutions, contributing to the common good. Cardus works to enrich and challenge public debate with well-founded arguments and clear evidence.
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