5,000+ Paramedics in Six Provinces to Provide Palliative Care in the Home

New training for paramedics will increase access to palliative care in the home for patients and families, where they want it

January 29, 2019 (Toronto) – The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (the Partnership) and the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI) today announced that Canadians living with cancer and other life-limiting conditions will gain access to urgent palliative care when they need it, and where they want it. This will be achieved through paramedics trained in providing palliative and end-of-life care in the home, in collaboration with other health professionals.

Teams announced: The two organizations will provide funding and support to train over 5,000 paramedics to provide palliative and end-of life care in:

  • BC Emergency Health Services
  • Saskatchewan Health Authority Regina Area
  • Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority (Manitoba)
  • York Region Paramedic Services (Ontario)
  • Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
  • New Brunswick Department of Health
  • Eastern Health (Newfoundland and Labrador)

Evidence shows that having paramedics provide palliative care and end-of-life care in the home improves comfort and quality of life for people with debilitating illnesses, as well as their families.1 It also reduces the number of avoidable trips to the hospital and the use of health system resources, such as hospital beds and emergency departments and total time on a call for paramedics.1

The programs were implemented in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island starting in 2014 and saw Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers provided enhanced resources and the training to treat patients’ palliative needs at home, without transporting them to the hospital. The programs collaborated with Pallium Canada to develop a new curriculum for palliative care that is specific for paramedics. The new curriculum was entitled “LEAP Mini for Paramedics” (LEAP- Learning Essentials and Approaches to Palliative and End of Life Care).

The Paramedics and Palliative Care: Bringing Vital Services to Canadians collaboration will run until spring 2022. This program is part of ongoing efforts by the Partnership and CFHI to improve Canada’s health system and ensure it responds to the needs of patients and families. It also supports the shared health priority of improving access to home and community care, including palliative and end-of-life care.

The two organizations will jointly provide up to $5.5 million over the next four years to expand access to paramedics trained in providing palliative and end-of-life care to people in their homes. CFHI and the Partnership will support provincial health authorities and organizations across the country to adopt and adapt best practices.

Quick facts

  • 86 per cent of Canadians believe palliative care should be provided at home as much as possible.2
  • Of Canadians who have a preference, 75 per cent would prefer to die in their home.1
  • Few Canadians (15 per cent) have early access to palliative home care.4
  • 62 per cent of Canadians who received palliative care did so in an acute care hospital and mostly in their last month of life.4
  • People who receive palliative care earlier are less likely to visit emergency departments frequently or receive aggressive treatment at the end of life.4
  • 65–80 per cent of people receiving palliative care are those with cancer.5

Quotes

“A big part of achieving a more sustainable cancer system is finding ways to have vital supports provided to patients in their home and community,” said Cindy Morton, CEO of the Partnership. “Paramedics and Palliative Care is a big step in achieving this home-based support and we are excited to collaborate with CFHI to deliver these skills to paramedics across the country.”

“We know that a majority of Canadians want access to palliative and end-of-life care in their homes,” said Jennifer Zelmer, President and CEO of CFHI. “That is why we are pleased to work together with the Partnership and the participating provincial health authorities and organizations to bring palliative and end-of-life care closer to home, responding to the preferences of patients and families and making better use of healthcare resources.”

“Introducing this model of care in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island has improved access to palliative care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week across our two provinces. Paramedics feel this is some of the most rewarding work they do, and patients and families describe the relief they feel being more able to remain home with the support of this new program,” said Dr. Alix Carter, Medical Director of Research at EHS Nova Scotia and member of the Paramedics Providing Palliative Care at Home Program team in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. “I am so pleased that CFHI and CPAC are supporting this collaboration of paramedic services and palliative care to enable patients and families in many more regions across Canada to have this support.”

“Access to quality palliative care services is essential for Canadians facing life-threatening and debilitating illnesses,” said the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health. “The recently released Framework on Palliative Care in Canada highlights the need to expand innovative projects like this one, which improve person-centred care and access to palliative care where and when it is needed.”

Related links: Paramedics and Palliative Care Backgrounder 

About the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement
CFHI works shoulder-to-shoulder with partners to identify proven innovations and accelerate their spread across Canada, improving patient care, the health of everyone in Canada and value-for-money. CFHI is a not-for-profit organization funded by Health Canada. Visit cfhi-fcass.ca for more information.

About the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer
As the steward of the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control (the Strategy) the Partnership works to implement the Strategy to reduce the burden of cancer on Canadians. The partner network – cancer agencies, health system leaders and experts, and people affected by cancer – brings a wide variety of expertise to every aspect of our work. After 10 years of collaboration, we are accelerating work that improves the effectiveness and efficiency of the cancer control system, aligning shared priorities and mobilizing positive change across the cancer continuum. The Partnership continues to support the work of the collective cancer community in achieving our shared 30-year goals: a future in which fewer people get cancer, fewer die from cancer and those living with the disease have a better quality of life. The Partnership was created by the federal government in 2006 to move the Strategy into action and receives ongoing funding from Health Canada to continue supporting partners from across Canada. Visit www.partnershipagainstcancer.ca.

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The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.

For more information:
Nick Williams
Communications Officer, Media Relations
Canadian Partnership Against Cancer
Mobile: 647-388-9647, nick.williams@partnershipagainstcancer.ca 

Christine LaRocque
Senior Communications Lead
Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement
Mobile: 343-998-5143, christine.larocque@cfhi-fcass.ca 

REFERENCES

1- Carter AJE, Arab M, Harrison M et al. Paramedics Providing Palliative Care at Home: A Mixed-Methods Exploration of Patient and Family Satisfaction and Paramedic Comfort and Confidence. CJEM 2018 in press

2- Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. Canadians’ Views of Palliative Care. 2016. Available at: https://static1.squarespace.com/ 

3- What Canadians Say: The Way Forward Survey Report December 2013. Available at: http://www.hpcintegration.ca/media/51032/The%20Way%20Forward%20-%20What%20Canadians%20Say%20-%20Survey%20Report%20Final%20Dec%202013.pdf 

4- Access to Palliative Care in Canada. Canadian Institute for Health Information. 2018. Available at: https://www.cihi.ca/sites/default/files/document/access-palliative-care-2018-en-web.pdf 

5- Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians. How to improve palliative care in Canada: A call to action for federal, provincial, territorial, regional and local decision-makers. November 2016. Available at: http://www.cspcp.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Full-Report-How-to-Improve-Palliative-Care-in-Canada-FINAL-Nov-2016.pdf