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Changing the narrative

We’re working to shift misconceptions around what the term “palliative” means.

Last year saw a lot of dialogue around and attention given to palliative care — who is it for, what does it mean, where does it fit?

The reality is that palliative care is for patients with advanced disease and symptoms. It is a multidisciplinary approach to care  that allows our health care professionals to get on top of these symptoms and send patients back home; at Providence, we see patients over many weeks, months and even years. It incorporates elements of physical, psychological, social, and spiritual care. As leaders in the area and strong advocates for the integral role that it has in someone’s disease trajectory, we see palliative care as whole person and family care that is central to all health care, and not something that is limited to end-of-life and/or terminal-stage care.

With generous donor support through St. Paul’s Foundation, a new, multidisciplinary outpatient palliative care clinic was launched in April 2018 as a pilot project at St. Paul’s Hospital. The patient outcomes and research that will come from this project will be invaluable in helping to shift our society’s current narrative around palliative care, and the preconceptions that exist around this holistic approach to patient care.

Given our rapidly aging population, we want to reassure people that entering palliative care does not hasten death; rather, it’s about optimizing quality of life and providing comfort.

Read more palliative care myth busters with our head of palliative care, Dr. Gil Kimel, here.