January 19th, 2021

AHS working to give more people the comfort of dying in their own home

By GILLIAN SLADE on June 16, 2019.


Alberta Health Services is focused on providing the necessary supports to help people in palliative care who would like to die in their own home.

“At this point many people do not die at home,” said Dr. Jim Silvius, AHS medical director.

It is a trend that can be seen in the number of people who wanted medical assistance in dying but wanted that service in a facility rather than their own home.

Of 709 MAID cases since June 17, 2016, a total of 442 were carried out in a facility and 267 in the community.

In some cases people receiving palliative care decide to move to a hospice because they feel there would be more supports to help control their level of pain. Others try to stay at home but sudden and severe pain can result in them being transferred to hospital or deciding to have MAID.

Silvius, who has palliative care in his portfolio, says the community paramedics program with palliative care is being used to address this.

“One of the reasons we did this was that they can provide symptom management for people who want to stay in the community,” said Silvius.

In the program someone with a symptom crisis, but who still wants to stay at home, can be provided with this service to get their symptoms in control and leave them at home if that is what they want, said Silvius.

“In our first evaluation I think it was 85 per cent of people did not end up going to hospital,” said Silvius.

Medicine Hat has a community paramedics program. The service is usually requested through the patient’s family physician.

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