More palliative care options on the way for New Brunswick
When it comes to comfort, there is no place like home. That’s why New Brunswick’s government has announced a new approach to palliative care.
On Thursday, the government unveiled a new provincial strategy that will make palliative care available to more patients in their homes.
Some doctors say the new approach to palliative care is overdue.
"Last week I had seven urgent new consults for patients that needed to be seen this week. I don't have the resources to see any of them this week," says Dr. Jennifer Gillis-Doyle, currently the only full-time palliative care consultant in Fredericton.
Dr. Gillis-Doyle says she will get to them eventually, but that's not good enough. She says more resources, more physicians, and more support is needed for patients.
She hopes a new strategy announced today, will change the way palliative care is delivered in New Brunswick.
"I certainly had an opportunity to learn about palliative care when my mother was passed away," says Lisa Harris, New Brunswick’s Minister of Seniors and Long-Term Care.
Harris says the goal is to ensure New Brunswickers have the option to receive palliative care in their home, without having to go to a hospital or hospice. An option her mother didn't have.
"You know we kept her at home for as long as we could, but it came the time where she needed palliative care. We took her to the hospital in Miramichi and it was good care, but you can't compare being in a hospital towards being in your home,” explains Harris.
Several health organizations across the province will be working together to ensure patients will receive the best quality care. That means more extensive training for home support staff.
"Accompanying someone on their individual journey is a true privilege and it does require some training for the home support staff, and will require some different kinds of conservations because you're not on team cure, the goals are different, the outcomes are different," says Tina Learmonth, President of the N.B. Home Support Association.
But palliative care doesn't necessarily mean 'end of life'. Doctors say most patients suffer from a complex medical illness, and more specialized units are need in hospitals.
"Palliative care simply used to mean end of life care. That's probably about 10% of what I do. 80% of what I do is helping people live longer and better, might be months, might be years," says Dr. Gillis-Doyle.
It's not clear when the provincial strategy will get underway. Doctors hope it's sooner rather than later.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mary Cranston.