Health Council of Canada Recommendations for Home Care a Positive First Step

More on hospice palliative care needed

(Ottawa, April 18, 2012) – The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) is enthusiastic about the Health Council of Canada’s report, Seniors in need, caregivers in distress: What are the home care priorities for seniors in Canada? released earlier this week. The report recognizes home care an essential component of an integrated approach to health care, and recommends improved support for family caregivers. The CHPCA concurs with the recommendations and strongly encourages the Health Council and all governments to continue to focus on the need for integrated hospice palliative care in home care and across all settings of care.

Although this report effectively expresses the necessity for home care and caregiver support, it does not address the challenges and growing needs for hospice palliative care. “We need to build on the recommendations included in this report and address the needs of individuals who choose to die in their homes,” stated Sharon Baxter, Executive Director of the CHPCA. “There is an urgent need for improved hospice palliative care within all settings of care, especially as our population ages.”

Current end-of-life care research increasingly suggests that Canadians prefer to die at home or in their home communities (e.g. in long-term care facilities) instead of in hospital settings[i], yet nearly 70% of Canadian deaths occur in a hospital. In fact, a 2007 health care survey, found that 80% of Canadians support the development of home care and community care programs[ii].

Another important issue for seniors receiving home care that the Council did not address is the need for advance care planning. A March 2012 Ipsos-Reid poll found that 86% of Canadians have not heard of advance care planning, and that less than half have had a discussion with a family member or friend about healthcare treatments if they were ill and unable to communicate. Only 9% had ever spoken to a healthcare provider about their wishes for care. Research shows that an advance care plan reduces caregiver stress, and that patients are also more likely to take advantage of hospice resources or die at home.[iii]   “We need a national educational strategy that increases the awareness of the importance of advanced care planning and encourages seniors to discuss their future health and personal care preferences”, stated Nadine Henningsen, Executive Director of the Canadian Home Care Association.The Speak Up campaign introduced by the CHPCA is an exciting and positive step towards this goal.”

The CHPCA looks forward to working with the Council and other stakeholders to continue the progress in home care and address the urgent need for home based palliative care.

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The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association — the national voice for hospice palliative care in Canada – is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in care for persons approaching death so that the burdens of suffering, loneliness and grief are lessened. The CHPCA operates in close partnership with other national organizations and continues to work to ensure that all Canadians, regardless of where they may live, have equal access to quality hospice palliative care services for themselves and their family. The Speak Up Campaign/National Advance Care Planning Task Group is a project managed by the CHPCA, more information is available at www.advancecareplanning.ca.

For further information, please contact:

Vanessa Sherry
Communications Officer
Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association
E-mail: vsherry@bruyere.org
Phone: 613-241-3663 ext: 229



[i] Canadian Institute for Health Information, Health Care Use at the End of Life in Western Canada (Ottawa: CIHI, 2007), p. 22.

[ii] Health Care in Canada Partnership. (2007). Health care in Canada survey. Toronto, ON: Merck Frosst Canada Ltd. Retrieved from http://www.hcic-sssc.ca/english/Content.aspx?l0=7&tid=7&l=0

[iii] Wright, AA, et al. Associations between end-of-life discussion, health care expenditures, JAMA, 2008, 300 (14) 1665-1673