A New Approach for Including Palliative Care in Long-Term Care Homes

Middle aged son comforting senior father on couch

Award Date: 2017

Project Lead(s): Giulia-Anna Perri, Medical Program Director, Palliative and End-of-Life Care

Project Title: Enhancing integration of palliative care in Long-Term Care, through use of Telemedicine and a framework for identifying Residents who would benefit from a palliative approach to care – a pilot study

What is the issue?

Palliative care enhances the lives of individuals living with life-limiting illnesses. But it is challenging to identify which long-term care residents may benefit from palliative care. As a result, many of them are missing out.

What did we do?

We studied a new approach to incorporating palliative care services in long-term care homes.  Care staff used a standard assessment tool to identify residents who might benefit from palliative services. They received palliative care through video consultations via the Ontario Telemedicine Network.

What did we find?

The standard assessment tool worked fairly well to identify residents needing palliative care.  Most staff and families were satisfied with video conferencing and would be willing to use it again. However, families said they would prefer to meet with specialists in person. Staff said they gained confidence and knowledge about using the Ontario Telemedicine Network. Some of the criteria need to be refined. For example, the question about referring those who were likely to die within the next 12 months did not account for a doctor’s clinical judgment. Families had mixed feelings about the referral process as it did not account for their requests.