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March 30, 2005
For immediate release

Health Council of Canada Names PEI Palliative Care Program "Best Practice"

Health and Social Services

The Health Council of Canada has identified the Prince Edward Island Integrated Palliative Care Program as one of six “Best Practices” from across Canada.

The”Best Practices” are described in videos released in support of the Council’s first report, entitled Health Care Renewal in Canada: Accelerating Change, which was issued in January.

Six short videos were produced dealing with the various areas that have been highlighted in the report, which covers activity across Canada launched or being planned from the 2003 First Ministers’ Accord on Health Care Renewal. The videos were part of the national release of the report.

“This ‘Best Practice’ recognition is a tremendous achievement for the PEI Integrated Palliative Care Program,” says Health & Social Services Minister Chester Gillan. “The team approach of this program is the key to its success and, most importantly, provides individuals with personalized, top-quality palliative care in any setting, including the comfort of their homes.”

To demonstrate an example of integrated palliative care services, last November a film crew followed East Prince Health home care nurse Anna Marie Lynch as she travelled around rural PEI visiting her patients and focussed on her visit with Heath Wall and his spouse Faye Coles.

Mr. Wall had terminal cancer, and he and his family wanted him to receive care at home for as long as possible. Anna Marie was their connection to an integrated health care team, all specially trained to address the issues facing palliative patients and their families.

In describing the Integrated Palliative Care Program, the patient’s spouse, Ms. Coles says, “The whole team became the go-between, for us and our family doctor, and they could come and chat and get the whole picture.”

Palliative care is for individuals facing a progressive life threatening illness and families who are bereaved. It provides physical, emotional and spiritual care with a focus to living fully in comfort and with dignity. It is practiced in many settings across P.E.I. – in a person’s home, in hospitals, in nursing homes, and in palliative care units.

The Integrated Palliative Care team is formed based on the individual needs and expectations identified by the patient and family, and is as individual as the patient.

The team members who deliver palliative care can include, among others, physicians, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, home support workers, occupational therapists, volunteers from hospice organizations and spiritual care providers. Family members and friends contribute significantly to the care needs of their loved ones.

In P.E.I., small clinical resource teams have been established province-wide and offer leadership and support in the care of palliative patients and their families. Members have received specialized training in areas such as pain and symptom management, advanced care planning, grief and bereavement and spirituality.

The goal of the Integrated Palliative Care Program is to combine efforts in a coordinated, team approach so that no matter where an individual is in the health care system, they have access to consistent high quality palliative care. This collaborative effort is a cornerstone of the primary health care model on which this program is based and is considered “best practice” in palliative care.

Other features that make this program model a best practice are a coordinated point of referral to the program through the Regional Home Care and Support Programs and a shared assessment tool intended to limit duplication for the client and family as much as possible.

As Ms. Coles summed it up, “... to be able to keep people at home is the big thing, because that's where we all want to be.” And Prince Edward Island is leading the way in helping people reach that goal.

The Council, set up in 2003 by Canada’s First Ministers, independently monitors and reports progress on health care renewal and the health status of Canadians. It provides information to Canadians to encourage their participation in determining how best to achieve health care renewal and to get the best value from available funding.

The Council has 27 members including representatives of participating provinces, territories and the Government of Canada, with a broad range of experience from government, health care management, research and community life across Canada.

The Integrated Palliative Care Program video can be viewed on the Health Council of Canada web site at:

Media Contact: Darlene Gillis
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