May 10, 2013

Dear Northerners,

Six years ago this month my father died in the comfort of his own home.  For several months prior to his death, my sister and I took turns helping my mom care for him.  I remember several days before he died he told me he was tired and it was time to call the priest.

It’s a precious, time-limited opportunity to gently hold your father’s hand and recognize, with exceptional insight, what really matters.

Because we know that Northerners also recognize the importance of compassion at the end of life’s journey, the NE LHIN is working with our hospice and palliative care providers. This is the type of patient-focused care that crosses every single front-line provider, and that’s why the NE LHIN wants to provide more support for these care providers.

As noted in our new three-year strategic plan, a key NE LHIN priority is to Enhance Care Coordination and Transitions to Improve the Patient Experience. This includes developing the range and capacity of end-of-life services across our region. Our goal is to see an increase in the number of people receiving palliative care in settings other than hospitals, because that’s what fellow Northerners have told us they want.

In fact, a Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) report released April 30 noted that surveys have shown that most people do not want to die in a hospital.  Unfortunately, that’s often the location due to the availability of palliative care or hospice services.

Hospice Palliative Care Week, May 5 to 11, provides an opportunity to review some of the ways the NE LHIN is providing support for this important form of patient care:

  • Supporting the hiring of five new Nurse Practitioners through NE CCAC dedicated to palliative care in Timmins, North Bay, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.
  • Providing support to a Shared Care Team out of Maison Vale Hospice in Sudbury and allowing more people to die comfortably if they so desire at home.
  • Investing more in community funding for palliative care across the region.
  • Providing palliative care training for staff at small hospitals across the region.
  • Recently hiring Heather Westaway as North East Regional Hospice Palliative Care Coordinator (she can be reached at our Sudbury office at 705-673-0199). Heather is also coordinating the efforts of the regional network dedicated to this care, which is now called the North East Hospice Palliative Care Network.

The NE LHIN recognizes the demographic reality of our region – that we are growing older in larger number, ahead of the provincial trend so we must collaborate as health care partners to offer the right care, in the right place at the right time.