Editorial wrong about hospice palliative care

Your Oct. 4 editorial provided clear information on the very real challenges surrounding the delivery of quality end-of-life care.

To the Editor,

Your Oct. 4  editorial (End-of-life care needs attention, Opinion) provided clear information on the very real challenges surrounding the delivery of quality end-of-life care and the need for more supports.

What puzzled me was the sentence stating “not everyone wants to die at hospice where the staff are knowledgeable and compassionate, yet the atmosphere can seem like a hospital ward.”

In my experience, the care provided in the all too few residential hospice facilities and palliative care units located in communities and hospitals around B.C. is exceptional.

These programs are underfunded and yet their highly skilled and compassionate care teams made up of both medical professionals and hospice volunteers make a very positive difference in the end of life journey for both the patient and their family.

My aunt died on the hospital palliative care unit four years ago. The renovations that make that unit such a beautiful place to receive care today were non-existent, and the physical space was definitely lacking.

But to us, the surroundings didn’t matter one bit. What did matter was the availability of expert medical care that effectively relieved my aunt’s suffering, and the incredible support we, as a family, received. We felt seen, heard, valued, and supported during a very difficult time.

In truth, there is no “right place to die”.  If it can be managed, most of us would probably opt to stay home.

But when that’s not possible, then hospice and palliative programs, whether they are residential or hospital based,  are second to none in providing exactly the right level of care that respects the needs of the “whole” person (patient) and their family.

Some of the surroundings are more home-like than others, but it truly doesn’t get any better – the editorial was way off-base.

Wendy Pratt

Nanaimo Community

Hospice Society

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