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Island Health doubles beds for hospice

A five-year plan to double hospice beds across Vancouver Island is “encouraging,” according to the executive director of the Nanaimo Hospice, who says there’s need in every community.

Island Health has announced it will double the number of hospice beds on Vancouver Island by 2020, a move that stems from its updated end-of-care priorities and syncs up with a similar provincial commitment.

Island communities will see beds increased from 32 to 62 over the next five years beginning in 2015 with the Comox Valley, which doesn’t currently have beds set aside for people who are dying and no longer need acute care. Nanaimo already has four hospice beds and is last on the priority list. It’s unknown what its share of the additional beds will be.

Wendy Pratt, executive director of the Nanaimo Community Hospice Society, considers the plan good news.

The hospice is a member of the Vancouver Island Federation of Hospices, which has been working with Island Health around better end-of-life care.

“Ultimately every community needs more beds. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Nanaimo that already has beds or Victoria that has 17 hospice beds ... those beds still aren’t covering the need,” she said, adding this document is Island Health’s way of saying it gets the message.

“We are addressing the need on Vancouver Island for beds but we are also addressing the need for patients and families. It’s about a whole approach to doing end-of-care better, right across the Island and that will affect Nanaimo.”

The updated priorities look at how end-of-life care is provided and looks to enhance services, including tele-hospice for rural, remote communities and enhanced caregiver support. It also names hospice societies as community partners.

For more information on hospice care, please visit www.nanaimohospice.com.

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