To help people who choose to live out their final days at home or in the community to live with dignity and in as much comfort as possible, the South East CCAC is expanding its Hospice Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner program into the Kingston and Salmon River Health Link areas.
"Recent studies suggest that 70 to 80 percent of people would prefer to die at home if supports were available, yet 66 percent of Ontarians die in hospitals," says Valerie Cooper, Hospice Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner for the Kingston and Salmon River Health Links.
"Palliative care at home or in a residential hospice helps patients nearing end of life to continue living as comfortably as possible, while maintaining their dignity. We respect and support the individual's choice to die at home or in their place of choice or we can assist in admission to hospital or residential hospice if it is the patient's decision."
To improve the patient and caregiver experience Hospice Palliative Care Nurse Practitioners support earlier diagnosis of hospice palliative care needs, improve pain and symptom management through prescribing and monitoring medication, and other interventions.
"A big part of our regional success is our connections within the health system," says Cooper. "Hospice Palliative Care Nurse Practitioners work collaboratively with the CCACs' existing regulated health care professionals, hospital staff, primary care providers and community agencies to support and provide hospice palliative care to patients who have life limiting illness and their families/caregivers.
"We contribute to the development of a hospice palliative care team that is available to respond in an urgent situation. By increasing access to hospice palliative care, we can help to reduce hospital admissions and emergency department visits."
As the recently released Auditor General's Report on Palliative Care indicates, the need for palliative care will increase. The number of people aged 65 and over is expected to more than double and by 2036, seniors will constitute 24 per cent of Ontario's population. Because a larger percentage of Ontario's population will be nearing their end of life, and may also be living longer with advanced illnesses, this will create greater need for the provision of palliative care.
"By helping patients receive the right care in the right place, we can help them live with comfort and dignity until their death in their place of choice," concludes Cooper.
The Salmon River Health Link includes the Greater Napanee area and Tyendinaga while the Kingston Health Link serves Kingston and Amherstview.