Palliative care is the care offered to a person whose disease is no longer curable. It is not offered with the intent to speed up or delay death. It's purpose is to provide comfort to the patient and family by addressing physical, emotional, social, spiritual and information needs. The Northern Health Palliative Care Program offers support to the health care team to help patients enjoy the best possible quality of life until death.
Whether you are at home, in hospital, a hospice bed or a long-term care facility your health care team will provide:
- Care to help relieve symptoms such as pain, nausea, shortness of breath, fatigue, insomnia
- Information on services and care options, legal and financial matters
- Teaching for families on how to provide or assist with care
- Emotional support
- Referrals to available services, such as volunteers or counselling
For more information about palliative care services, please contact your family doctor or nurse practitioner.
Information for patients and families
- You and your family are the center of the team. Your health care team will ensure that you have the knowledge and the understanding of your situation to enable you to make informed choices.
- At this stage of life the needs of yourself and your family are complex; a team approach is essential. In addition to your family doctor, your team my include specialist doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, volunteers, care aides, physiotherapist, occupation therapists, respiratory therapists, nutritionists, spiritual care providers, and counselors.
- A palliative care consultation team is also available to assist and advise your health care team. The team includes a doctor, pharmacist, and a registered nurse, all with advanced training and expertise in palliative care.
Northern Health also offers access to publicly subsidized hospice beds located in a number of our long-term care facilities. Hospice beds are available to those people with progressive life-limiting illnesses.
Admission to hospice beds can be for:
- Short stay admission for control of symptoms such as pain or nausea, transition from hospital to home and for caregiver rest, or
- Permanent admission for care during the last days or weeks of life.
Publicly subsidized hospice beds
The following long-term care facilities have hospice beds that provide 24 hour professional nursing care and end-of-life care:
- Acropolis Manor, Prince Rupert
- Terraceview Lodge, Terrace
- Bulkley Lodge, Smithers
- Rotary Manor, Dawson Creek
- Dunrovin Park Lodge, Quesnel
- Peace Villa, Fort St John
- Stuart Nechako Manor, Vanderhoof
Northern Health works in partnership with the Prince George Hospice Society to fund Rotary Hospice House, a 10-bed hospice house that provides comfort and care in a home-like setting. A brief description of Rotary Hospice House is available.
For more information about hospice care services, please contact your family doctor or nurse practitioner. Your health care team will ensure you have the knowledge and understanding of your situation to enable you to make informed choices.
Palliative care services and resources
Whether you are at home, in hospital, a hospice bed or a long-term care facility, your health care team will provide:
- Care to help relieve symptoms such as pain, nausea, shortness of breath, fatigue, insomnia, etc.
- Information on services and care options, legal and financial matters.
- Teaching for families on how to provide or assist with care.
- Emotional support.
- Referrals to available services, e.g. volunteers, counseling.
To ease the emotional and financial burden of providing care at home, Northern Health provides the following resources:
- Selected medical supplies, e.g. wound dressings, incontinence supplies, mouth care swabs, etc.
- Free loan of equipment, as available in your area, e.g. hospital style bed, safety and mobility aides, commodes, hospital gowns, etc.
- Home support: free of charge to you, i.e. trained Community Health Workers who will provide assistance with personal care and meal preparation for the patient, and provide a break (respite) for their caregiver.
You must be registered by your doctor with the Northern Health Palliative Care Program and assessed by your local Home Health / Community Care Services before receiving these services.
BC Palliative Care Benefits Program
This is a provincial program that provides selected prescription and over the counter medications which may be needed to control your symptoms. Ask your doctor to register you for this program, if you are eligible.
Compassionate care benefits are Federal Employment Insurance benefits that provide up to 26 weeks (6 months) of special benefits to specified family members who have to be away from work to care for, or provide support to, a seriously ill family member. Check the EI caregiving benefits and leave: What caregiving benefits offer website for who is eligible and for what forms need to be completed.
Discuss your situation with your doctor. If applicable, she or he will:
- Register you with NH Palliative Care Program
- Register you with the BC Palliative Care Benefits Program
- Refer you to Home Care Services, i.e. nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, home support.
Hospice volunteers are available to help patients in any care setting. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, contact your local Hospice Palliative Care Society.