Canada's Original Think Tank

Hospice Palliative Care Week

Hospice Palliative Care Week

Hospice Palliative Care Week

Hon. Jane Cordy: 

Honourable senators, I rise today to direct your attention to Hospice Palliative Care Week. May 5 to 11 marks the nineteenth annual Hospice Palliative Care Week in Canada. It is important that we take the time to acknowledge hospice palliative care given that death, dying, loss and bereavement touch us all. We must break down the myths that exist around the subject and work together to educate one another in the pursuit of excellence in hospice palliative care in Canada.

Honourable senators, I would like to address some of these myths as outlined by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association.

First is the myth that palliative care only relates to pain control. We know that palliative care also encompasses psychological, social, emotional, spiritual, caregiver support and practical support.

Second is the myth that one is not ready to receive palliative care when at least 89 per cent of people with life-limiting illness could benefit from palliative care.

Third is the myth that receiving palliative care means admitting defeat and that talking about dying causes stress for loved ones. Honourable senators, palliative care is aimed at improving quality of life for patients and their families. The more we talk about death and dying, the more we facilitate acceptance and understanding of how palliative care can positively impact people’s lives.

Honourable senators, palliative care can be provided to people of all ages from infancy to adulthood. It can be provided at home, in a long-term care facility, in a hospice or a hospital. Patients, and indeed all Canadians, can benefit from talking about end-of-life-care planning. We should encourage initiating conversations about palliative care with physicians. It is also very important that we incorporate future health care plans into discussions with loved ones so that our wishes are known. To quote George Bernard Shaw:

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

Let’s not assume that our loved ones know what we want for end-of-life care. We can initiate these conversations early because palliative care can benefit patients and families from diagnosis until death. It is not strictly reserved for those already nearing the end of their lives.

Statistics Canada estimates that by the year 2020, there will be 33 per cent more deaths in Canada each year. The number of Canadians requiring end-of-life care is increasing drastically.

Honourable senators, I encourage you to engage in public discussion on this topic. It is important that we advocate for quality hospice palliative care so that it is accessible for all Canadians. Honourable senators, keep in mind that it is not a matter of if we die but, rather, when we die.