Palliative care experts allege serious deficiencies in end-of-life treatment
Experts in the field of palliative care in Canada say there are serious deficiencies in the system that provides end-of-life care for some patients.
The Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians says only one in three Canadians have access to specialized palliative care services.
“We're on this cusp of what some of us are calling a silver tsunami, where all the baby boomers are entering this age of 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s,” said Dr. David Henderson, president of the society. “There's a tremendous increase in need of these kind of services.”
Part of those services involves adapting to the needs of an aging population as they face end of life decisions.
“I would say people really aren't looking for death by technology,” said family physician Dr. Stephanie Connidis. “I would say people are looking for a death that is compassionate, that focuses on symptom management, that can be done in a place of their preference, which is really their home or home like setting and not institutional settings.”
Some people may feel uncomfortable talking about death and dying, but that doesn't mean the topic should be ignored.
“Because they are important conversations to have, especially around advanced care planning and making sure that people that are close to you and your loved ones know what your wishes are at end of life,” said social worker Samantha Molen.
Henderson says Canadians now have a right to access medical assistance in dying. He believes we should have the same right to access to palliative care.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Dan MacIntosh.