The Canadian Cancer Society believes that critically ill Canadians are “falling through the cracks in palliative care across Canada.”
The Society describes palliative care in Canada as “costly and inconsistent”, and has set a goal for cancer patients needing palliative care. The CCS would like to see “dying cancer patients spend their final days with dignity, free of pain, and in a setting of their own choice.”
Ottawa has recently invested $6 billion over the next ten years in improving palliative care and offering more support for caregivers than currently exists.
After significant external lobbying from groups like the CCS, a program was created within the EI system that gives A person who is caring for someone who is dying, or is at a risk of dying, 26 weeks of a Compassionate Care Benefit. In 2017 that same lobbying created the EI Caregivers Benefit that gives 15 weeks to individuals providing care to an adult family member who requires support to recover from an injury.
All studies indicate that a team made up of family members and health care providers provide the highest level of service for those in need of palliative care.
The CCS would like to see more people have the right to die in a setting of their choosing. Palliative homecare is an option that more and more people want to learn about. Hospitals prefer it when adequate homecare is available, as it frees up beds and nursing time for patients with a better prospect of recovery. Familial caregivers prefer the comfort level of operating in their own surroundings as long as trained help is but a phone call away. Patients also find being at home far less stressful than being on a large multi-bed ward where they often do not receive that attention to detail that they need in their last few weeks or months.
Hospitals across Ontario are struggling with bed allocations as it is, and that will only worsen as the crest of the Baby Boom generation moves into their seventies and eighties in another 20 years.
Before we reach that tipping point in Canada, the CCS would like to see a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach to palliative care for cancer patients firmly engrained into Canada’s healthcare fabric.