North Okanagan Hospice teams up with McMaster University on research project

End-of-life research project

The North Okanagan Hospice Society will collaborate with Hamilton's McMaster University on research to strengthen palliative care.

The Vernon hospice announced the project Tuesday, which is funded by Health Canada.

The research will examine scaling up a palliative program "to provide high-quality care for long-term-care residents living with chronic and life-limiting illnesses," the society says in a press release.

"This approach provides individuals with a seamless transition from chronic disease management to appropriate end-of-life planning and care. Working alongside health professionals and family members, individuals with a life-limiting or life-ending illness are involved throughout the illness trajectory.

"Care is rooted in open and honest conversations so residents can ensure their personal, spiritual and emotional concerns are heard and addressed."

Hospice says failure to proactively identify, discuss, and address end-of-life issues often leads to costly hospital stays and creates added stress or burden for families.

"Families and staff sometimes feel uncomfortable initiating early discussions about palliative care or what to do in the event of a change in health status. However, strengthening the capacity of long-term care homes to engage in and support these discussions has real impact," says the society.

Early research demonstrates that implementing a palliative approach to care in LTC leads to improved family satisfaction and a 55 per cent reduction in emergency department visits for residents in their last year of life.

"As a result, more LTC residents can be supported to die according to their own wishes."

NOHS will support the analysis by identifying provincial partners for surveys and interviews, assisting in completion of surveys and interviews, and scaling up plans to implement the approach.

"This project aligns perfectly with NOHS's strategic plan, where we are committed to improving the lives of people with a life-limiting illness through innovation and education," said executive director Lisa Matthews.

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