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Frequently Asked Questions

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What is Hospice Palliative Care?

Hospice palliative care aims to relieve suffering and improve the quality of living and dying by helping individuals and families.  It addresses physical, psychological, social, spiritual and practical issues as well as associated expectations, needs, hopes and fears.  By treating all active issues and preventing new issues from occurring it provides opportunities for meaningful and valuable experiences as well as personal and spiritual growth.  It helps patients and their families prepare for and manage the end-of-life choices, the dying process and cope with loss and grief.

What is the difference between the terms Palliative Care, Hospice Palliative Care and Hospice?

Hospice palliative care is a philosophy of care that aims to relieve suffering and improve the quality of living and dying. It is appropriate for any individual and/or family living with, or at risk of developing, a life-threatening illness. It includes end-of-life care, but is not limited to the time immediately preceding death.

Palliative care is often used interchangeably with hospice palliative care.

Hospice is used to describe a variety of specific services, supports and care settings. Residential hospices create a home-like environment for patients who are at the end of their lives and need constant, sometimes intensive, care.  In contrast, visiting hospices offer care through out-patient facilities or by travelling to a patient’s home.

What is the current state of palliative care in Ontario?

In June 2016, Health Quality Ontario, one of our partners and the province’s advisor on healthcare quality, issued a report examining the care and services that palliative care patients received during the critical last month of their life.

According to Palliative Care at the End of Life, more than 54,000 people in Ontario received hospice palliative care services between April 2014 and the end of March 2015.

Of the patients who received palliative care:

  • About half (47.9%) began receiving palliative care in their last month of life.
  • Nearly two-thirds (64.9%) died in hospital.
  • About one-quarter (25.8%) spent half or more of their last month of life in hospital.
  • Nearly two-thirds (62.7%) had unplanned emergency department visits in their last month of life.
  • Less than half (43.3%) received palliative home care services in their last month of life.
  • About one-third (34.4%) received a home visit from a doctor in their last month of life.

Why were the Local Health Integration Networks and CCO given primary accountability in your leadership?

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care asked the LHINs and CCO to come together to lead our governance.

The LHINs have expertise in planning, integrating and funding local health care and system leadership.  They have the ability to enforce local provider accountability and knowledge of health system design at the regional level.  They help improve access, coordination and quality.

CCO has expertise in driving quality improvements in regional hospice palliative care. It has staffing and resources to support operational and tactical activities, data, clinical engagement and provincial strategic planning.

What are your 2016-17 provincial priorities?

Our current priority areas are:

  1. Establish a provincial network
  2. Support the establishment/evolution of regional networks
  3. Develop a communications and engagement strategy and tools
  4. Initiate capacity planning
  5. Share knowledge and best practices
  6. Collect, manage and report information and IT

Is your focus disease- or age-specific?

No. Our work is person-centred and focused on supporting the provision of quality hospice palliative care for all Ontarians regardless of age or disease type.

How are you funded?

We are funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to help deliver on Ontario’s commitment to palliative care.

The LHINs and CCO will be leveraging their existing commitments for hospice palliative care to support provincial and regional priorities. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is funding additional clinical leadership at the regional level to support improvements in the quality of care and to support our Secretariat.

What is the accountability model for hospice palliative care in Ontario under your leadership?

At the provincial level, the LHINs and CCO will be accountable to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Once established, the 14 Regional Palliative Care Networks’ governance structures will be jointly accountable to their respective LHIN CEO and Cancer Care Ontario Regional Vice President.

Service accountability agreements such as Hospital Service Accountability, Long-Term Care Home Service Accountability and Multi-Sectoral Service Accountability agreements for LHIN-funded providers will remain in place. Existing accountability agreements between Regional Cancer Programs and CCO will also remain the same.

What are Regional Palliative Care Networks?

Regional Palliative Care Networks:

  • Include all individuals with life-limiting illnesses, professionals, volunteers and organizations in the region who provide care and support to individuals with life-limiting illnesses and their families;
  • Include both health and non-health service providers, regardless of specialty;
  • Are not an entity or table, nor the governance structure for the region; and
  • Aim to build an inclusive community that generates, shares and implements person-centred care solutions.

What does the OPCN mean for the regions?

We are working with the regions to evolve or create 14 Regional Palliative Care Network governance structures. These governance structures will be jointly accountable to both the LHIN CEO and the Cancer Care Ontario Regional Vice President. They will work with their community stakeholders and their Regional Palliative Care Network governance structures to meet the hospice palliative care needs of their community.

What is the Regional Palliative Care Network governance structure?

The Regional Palliative Care Network governance structure refers to the regional steering committee or leadership council and any other additional advisory councils that report to it. Names of these structures may vary regionally. The governance structure is accountable to the LHIN CEO and Cancer Care Ontario Regional Vice-President and is the principal regional advisor on high-quality hospice palliative care to inform their decision-making.

How will existing work in hospice palliative care be integrated into the new regional model?

Provincial objectives and standards will be set, but local leaders will decide how to align their local priorities with provincial directions.

Will Regional Palliative Care Networks follow a single "cookie cutter" approach?

As we move toward 14 Regional Palliative Care Networks, we will work with hospice palliative care leaders to establish common elements for the regional programs while recognizing the need for local customization. There’s already great work being done in the regions and the provincial team hopes to learn from the regions and share best practices across the province.

What if our region already has a regional network and governance structure in place?

As we move toward 14 Regional Palliative Care Networks, we will work with hospice palliative care leaders to establish common elements for the regional programs while recognizing the need for local customization. There’s already great work being done in the regions and the provincial team hopes to learn from the regions and share best practices across the province.

Are regions expected to continue working on the recommendations in the "declaration" document?

Yes. The regions should continue to advance the commitments of the Declaration. Our role is to ensure implementation of the Declaration priorities at both the provincial and regional levels. Moving forward, the regions will work toward developing a unified work plan to incorporate work dedicated to meeting provincial goals while delivering on local priorities.