Canada’s population is aging as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement. Statistics Canada estimates that, for the first time in history, the number of Canadians over 65 will outnumber those 14 and under.1 The sheer numbers of ageing Baby Boomers means something must be done to change— and seriously improve—end of life care.
The medical community at large views death as a failure of medicine, in the sense that they, understandably, are trained to treat and heal. This can lead to nightmares of unwanted tubes and machines as well as the desire to prepare living wills and “do not resuscitate orders.” However, there is another medical option when death is approaching, and that is palliative care.
Palliative care addresses death as the normal part of life that it is; not a problem to be solved but a process to be lived. Where this care is available for all who need it, fear of heroic measures at the end of life is unnecessary. The problem is that more than half of Canadians who need palliative care can’t get it.2
This paper tells the story of the beginnings of palliative care in Canada through the eyes of two palliative care pioneers, Dr. Balfour Mount and Senator Sharon Carstairs (retired). It will show the roots of palliative care in order to discover how such care may grow in Canada into the future.
- Increase palliative care training in medical schools for general practitioners, both to know more about palliative care practice as well as to know when to consult palliative care specialists or refer patients for palliative care
- Expand the ability of a GP to consult a palliative care specialist– in person, over the phone or via an internet-based video conversation – so that every GP in every community has such access
- Officially recognize palliative care as a necessary aspect of Canadian healthcare in every province, resulting in consistent and strong funding
- Solidify funding and consensus in support of local hospice houses and organizations which allow patients to receive quality care without leaving their communities
- Increase government resources for local palliative care efforts
Download the full report below