Report Gives Recommendations for Ontario’s Inadequate Palliative Care

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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A report by expert Ontario panel, Health Quality Ontario, has stressed that every patient nearing end-of-life circumstances should be allowed to have access to quality palliative care in the location of their choice. The report pointed out that dying needs to be “demedicalized and demystified,” while patients and their families should be allowed to have more say and more choice about how their final days should be spent.

The report has been released only a few days after the province’s Auditor-General declared the provision of end-of-life care are insufficient, inefficient and inequitable, and pointed out that there isn’t even good data showing what is currently being done. The vice-president of evidence development and standards at Health Quality Ontario, Irfan Dhalla, alleged that “our best guess is that only about 30 per cent of patients get the kind of palliative care they should,” adding that “we think that if the recommendations were implemented, end-of-life care would be substantially improved.” Additionally, Dr. Dhalla stated that though access to palliative care is poor in Ontario, it is even poor in the rest of Canada.

An independent group of experts advising HQO, the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee, also made several recommendations in the 47-page technical report. The report summarized the evidence of what constitutes quality end-of-life care. Chief executive of Saint Elizabeth Health Care, i.e. a large provider of community care, and a member of OHTAC, Shirlee Sharkey, alleged that “what’s most important is to increase access to end-of-life care. We’re just not doing enough now.”

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