Palliative Approach to Care

Report Title: The Palliative Approach: Improving Care for Canadians with Life-Limiting Illnesses (August 2012)

Although only a small proportion of people will need intensive or tertiary palliative care provided by specialized palliative care teams, everyone faced with a life-limiting or life threatening illness could benefit from other aspects of palliative care. Being diagnosed as "close to death" can no longer be the trigger for initiating palliative care because too many people with life threatening illnesses who die "unexpectedly" will not receive the care that could enhance both their living and dying. Instead, a palliative approach could and should be integrated into care for people with chronic, life-limiting conditions and people who are frail and vulnerable to infections or falls that could hasten death. This integrated palliative care should be provided by primary care, chronic care and long-term care practitioners and available early in the course of a disease (i.e. soon after diagnosis) and throughout the person's illness trajectory.This discussion paper presents the casefor using an integrated palliative care approach, defines both palliative care and the palliative care approach and identifies the benefits to the approach.

For a brief one-pager on the discussion document, click here

For the full discussion document, click here 

For your consideration:

  1. How can transitions in care become more seamless and better integrated across settings so that patients and families have access to the care they need throughout the trajectory of their illness?
  2. Are there some patients, such as the dementia patient who has few physical health problems and no issues with pain management, whose palliative care needs can be managed primarily by primary care providers throughout their lives? Are there others who, because of their illness trajectory, will benefit from referral to specialized palliative care services at a key point in their disease?
  3. How will we ensure access to a consistent palliative approach to care across Canada?