New access to palliative care supports after hours will mean that more Islanders can receive end-of-life care at home, says Health and Wellness Minister Doug Currie.
“Most patients prefer to receive palliative care in their own home with their family close by, and this new service will allow more patients to receive care at home,” said Minister Currie. “Paramedics are highly trained and able to work in a variety of settings. Having them deliver the service is an effective use of health care resources and enables our paramedics to practice to the full scope of their knowledge and training.”
Through the new Paramedic Providing Palliative Care at Home program which begins this week, paramedics can provide patients with pain and symptom management at home, after hours.
“Many palliative crises occur outside of our palliative care program’s regular office hours when options for patients and their families are limited,” said Health PEI’s Provincial Palliative Care Medical Consultant Dr. Mireille Lecours. “This new initiative will complement palliative care services currently offered through our health care system and community-based organizations by bridging overnight care. It will also help ensure our palliative care patients have access to the care they need, when they need it, and in a way that is respectful of their end-of-life wishes.”
Until now, at-home palliative patients had limited access to after hours support for end-of-life symptoms such as pain and anxiety. As a result, a call to 9-1-1 could initiate an ambulance response, an unnecessary hospital admission or an unwanted medical intervention that went against the patient’s wishes to remain at home.
The new patient and family-centered program was made possible through a partnership between Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia with financial support of $1.3 million from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and Health Canada. Of the total funding, Prince Edward Island received $143,000 to get the program started.
All paramedics in Prince Edward Island have now received specialized clinical training on pain and symptom management for palliative patients; as well as education focused on communication, decision making and care in the last days and hours of life.
“Today marks another important step forward in healthcare for Islanders. We are proud to be part of this initiative that is based on creating new paradigms of care for patients,” said Darcy Clinton, General Manager, Island EMS and Medacom Atlantic. “Together, we are focused on providing the right care, in the right place, at the right time. Our team of highly trained paramedics will continue to provide the best possible care to patients – now with the ability to respect the patient’s wishes of receiving the appropriate care they need and to stay at home.”
To be eligible patients must register with the Provincial Integrated Palliative Care Program. To date, 170 palliative patients have registered with the program.
Prince Edward Island has one of the most comprehensive palliative care programs in the country. Trained health care teams provide palliative care in the home, long-term care and community care facilities, and in several hospitals throughout the province. A new $5.6 million provincial palliative care centre which opened this year, offers more care options and flexible programs for patients and families depending on their health care needs and wishes.
For more information on the Paramedics Providing Palliative Care at Home program, visit www.healthpei.ca/paramedicsprovidingpalliativecare.