Palliative and End-of-Life Care

Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and families facing life-threatening illness. High-quality palliative care uses an interdisciplinary approach to care that focuses on the concerns of patients and families, provides pain and symptom management, and supports patients to die with dignity in a setting of their choice.

Early referral to palliative care provides proven benefits; however, currently, most Canadians receive this kind of care only in the last month of their lives. A palliative approach to care provides the right care, in the right place, at the right time - improving peoples’ quality of life and the appropriate use and costs of healthcare.


Palliative and end-of-life care

A palliative approach to care across the continuum: Providing the right care, in the right place, at the right time

We know that right now, palliative care innovations are happening across Canada.

Although these innovations exist in Canada and elsewhere, they have not been widely implemented across this country. There is a need to identify and spread integrated approaches to palliative care and better understand their impact on experiences, quality of life, and costs for patients, caregivers, providers and systems.

Open Call for Innovations in Palliative and End-of-Life Care

To better understand innovations that are working well across the country, CFHI launched its first ever Open Call for Innovations in Palliative and End-of-Life Care in February 2017. For more information, please refer to the Open Call for Innovations in Palliative and End-of-Life Care Prospectus.

At the close of the call (April 2017), 69 applications had been received from acute, primary, academic, long term care, hospice, home and community care, and provincial and national associations across Canada, on themes such as:

  • early access to palliative care
  • pediatric palliative care
  • marginalized populations
  • bereavement, grief and loss
  • creating compassionate communities
  • supporting end-of-life discussion
  • coordination, transition and integration of care
  • telemedicine
  • advance care planning

Applications were assessed by an external merit review panel. Following this review, CFHI selected 26 Palliative and End-of-Life Care Innovations to be highlighted – 6 panel presentations reflecting 8 projects, plus 18 posterboards – at the 2017 CEO Forum (June 21, 2017) in Toronto, Ontario. Final selection was made to be reflective of innovations happening across Canada – both emerging and demonstrated – that are currently underway, are outperforming current practice or have the potential to outperform current practice and have spread or have the potential to spread.

Nine 2017 CFHI Palliative and End-of-Life Care Innovation Awards were presented at the CEO Forum. For more information on the selection criteria, please refer to the Open Call for Innovations in Palliative and End-of-Life Care Prospectus.

The Following CEO Forum 2017 sessions were recorded and are now available in video format.

Morning sessions »
Afternoon session »

9:00-9:20 ET
A Patient/Family Perspective: Communicating for compassion
In this session, Mrs. Penny Ericson, Patient Family Advisor, will discuss her experience with the healthcare system while she was caring for her husband before his death in 2013. Communication is the key to compassionate end-of-life care for patients and families. She will highlight that all the innovations featured at the Forum depend upon good communication skills, and will stress the importance of listening and effective communication within healthcare teams as well as with patients and families.
Penny Ericson, Patient/Family Advisor

9:30 - 10:30 ET
Finding the Resources for Health System Transformation - Can it be Done?
Improving palliative care is just one example of the transformations we want to achieve in our health systems. But finding new money to make them happen is tough. Transformation efforts often promise savings and efficiencies to close this gap – but in practice, realizing them seems elusive or impossible. In this session Mr. Jim Easton will reflect on his learning about how resources can be released to drive transformation based on his experience at hospital, system and national levels. The session will include practical, gritty examples of how resources can be released to support improvement, and offer reflection on how even the best leaders need to develop their skills and approaches to achieve this.
Jim Easton, Managing Director, Health Care, CARE UK

10:50 - 11:10 ET
Palliative Care is Everybody’s Business: Finding the lens we need for success in Canada
Forty years after establishing our first palliative care programs in Canada and indeed, coining the very phrase “Palliative Care,” we must pause and take stock of our current national landscape and ask ourselves: “Has Canada achieved the social transformation we aspired toward?” In this talk, Dr. Marshall will remind us of our current status in Canada and prompt us to consider a lens or two that may be critical for health system transformation for palliative and end-of-life care, as we move forward.
Denise Marshall, Medical Director, Niagara West Palliative Care Team and McNally House Hospice

11:10 - 12:50 ET
Palliative and End-of-Life Care Innovation Presentations and Awards
Moderator: Terry Sullivan, CEO Forum Chair

14:50 - 16:20  ET
Transforming Health Systems: Panel presentation and leaders discussion (panel only/ not breakout session) In this interactive session, a panel of leaders will discuss the system transformation required to help make palliative care more accessible to the people who need it. Following brief presentations, each panelist will facilitate discussion with participants regarding critical questions to tackle transformative change in palliative and end-of-life care.

Moderator: Dr. Robert Bell, Deputy Minister of Health and Long-Term care, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Panel presenters:
Lesia Babiak, Executive Director, Government Affairs & Policy (Canada), Johnson & Johnson Corporate
Doris Barwich, Executive Director, BC Centre for Palliative Care
Tricia Cochrane, Vice-President, Integrated Health Services Program Primary Health Care and Population Health, Nova Scotia Health Authority
Vincent Dumez, Co-director, Collaboration and Partnership Unit, University of Montreal
Joe Gallagher, Chief Executive Officer, First Nations Health Authority

Next steps

CFHI will be compiling key learnings from the Call for Innovations in Palliative and End-of-Life Care, the 2017 CEO Forum, and CFHI’s enhanced consultation strategy. Co-design of future palliative and end-of-life care programming will involve those who participated in the Open Call and the larger palliative and end-of-life care community. This design work is scheduled to begin in fall 2017.


EXTRA Cohort 12

Cohort 12 of CFHI’s flagship EXTRA: Executive Training Program had a special theme focused on palliative and end-of-life care. Five of the teams accepted into the cohort focused on improvement projects that developed approaches on this special theme.
Learn more about the teams »


Palliative Care Matters Partnership

Canada is at a turning point when it comes to palliative care and we recognize that both national and local action is needed so that everyone can access timely, quality care in the last phase of their life. The Palliative Care Matters initiative was started by Covenant Health to ensure palliative care becomes part of Canada’s universal healthcare model and has joined many of Canada’s leading national health organizations and experts in palliative care and health policy to lead a Consensus Development Conference in Ottawa, Ontario on November 7-9.

CFHI was a proud partner of this initiative that developed a consensus statement as a road map for Canada released early in 2017.