Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care receives input in Montreal

The Suburban, Quebec's largest english weekly newspaper published an article written by Ian Howarth concerning the input that was received on the West Island of Montreal by the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care, in mid December. The Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care is an all-party ad-hoc committee that is co-chaired by Joe Comartin (NDP), Michelle Simson (Lib), and Harold Albrecht (CPC).

The article reported:
The committee, of which Lac St. Louis MP Francis Scarpaleggia is a leading member, heard from a variety of stakeholders in the sensitive palliative and compassionate care sector of public health. “This is more of a grass roots effort of parliament,” explained Scarpaleggia. “The committee was born out of a concern for the kind of care sectors of Canadian society are being given, especially in the areas of palliative care, suicide prevention, elder abuse and disability issues.”

Concerning elder abuse, the article pointed to the presentation by Peter Eusanio from Comfort Keepers:
Peter Eusanio, who runs Comfort Keepers, a private home care service, talked of the way some seniors are at the mercy of other service providers and the difficult struggles they have in basic day to day living. Eusanio related stories of seniors left high and dry with grocery bags by uncaring taxi drivers or in another case a senior who had been robbed by a family member - and blamed it on the caregiver - to support a drug habit. The government of Canada has recently produced a series of public service television ads addressing the issue of elder abuse with the tagline, It’s Time to Face the Reality of Elder Abuse, encouraging Canadians to not turn a blind eye.

Debbie Magwood told the committe about the importance of the compassionate care that West Island Cancer Wellness Centre offers:
When Debbie Magwood started up The West Island Cancer Wellness Centre (WICWC) two years ago, she had no idea of the response she would get. Now the challenge is to keep up with the demand. Providing what she called psychosocial services to cancer patients and their families, the WICWC has tripled its numbers needing compassionate care. “Cancer patients and their families sometimes feel abandoned by the healthcare system,” she told the committee. “Of course there is the medical treatment, but there are other aspects to consider, like the stress associated with cancer.” Magwood added that all health agencies should be working together to give cancer patients and those close to them the compassionate care they need. She added that the WICWC’s operating budget is totally supported by independent fundraising, something she thought the committee would want to address when putting together its report
Teresa Dellar and Rose De Angelis from the West Island Palliative Care Residence explained the need for more support in providing palliative care services. The article stated:
Executive Director Teresa Dellar and assistant director general Rose De Angelis of the West Island Palliative Care Residence (WIPCR) struck a similar chord in their afternoon presentation to the committee. Every year the WIPCR raises $1.3 million through a variety of methods and along with the provincial government’s $700,000 contribution the residence is able to run its nine-bed facility. They do not receive any funding from the federal government.

De Angelis and Dellar related their concerns to the committee that not enough cancer patients were able to get the care they deserved. In fact, only 16-30 percent of Canadians have access to palliative care. The WIPCR is the only adult palliative care residence on the island of Montreal.

“We’re short 14 palliative beds on the West Island,” said De Angelis. “It should be one bed for every 10,000 people. When we started out in 1998, we were prepared for 140 patients per year and now it is more like 242 per year.”

De Angelis has no illusions, but is hopeful that the Palliative and Compassionate Care ad-hoc committee’s report will affect serious change. “I’d like to believe that since they are talking to the front-line service providers that it will at least raise awareness at the government and public level,” she said.

The work of the Palliative and Compassionate Care Committee was explained by the paper:
The committee, formed in April 2010, includes six MPs along with 45 other members that have met eight times in Ottawa as well as 17 regional round table meetings hosted across the country. The non-partisan committee’s goal is to address palliative, hospice and home care issues, suicide prevention, elder abuse and disability issues. A report, which will be forwarded to the government, is expected to be filed by next spring.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition looks forward to the release of this important report. The work of the Palliative and Compassionate Care Committee is historic and forward thinking. Canada needs to be prepared for providing the care in the future for its citizens.

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