Busting the Myths about Hospice Palliative Care!

How much do you really know?

OTTAWA, May 4, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- "Receiving hospice palliative care means you'll die soon." "Hospice palliative care is just for seniors." "I can only get hospice palliative care in a hospital." These are just some of the misperceptions health care professionals face with patients on a daily basis. During National Hospice Palliative Care Week, May 4-10, it's time to bust some of the most common hospice palliative care myths.

"People tend to think that hospice palliative care is offered only for seniors with advanced illness – which is not the case" said Laurie Anne O'Brien, President of the CHPCA, "in fact, hospice palliative care is provided to people of all ages – from children, teens, to younger, older and senior adults. For instance, people may not even know that Canada already has six freestanding children's hospices to help meet the need. No age is exempt from receiving a life threatening diagnosis, to being prepared for and eventually having to face the final stage of life. We need to continue to advocate for and make sure that all people have access to quality skilled hospice palliative care services, no matter their advanced diagnosis, age or location."

"Quality hospice palliative care offers a flexible set of services. It includes physical, psychological, social, spiritual and practical support for people with life-threatening illnesses, and to their families. It focuses on what people need and want at any given time, both prior to death and during bereavement. Canadians need to understand that hospice palliative care is broader than pain and symptom management in the final days of life," added Sharon Baxter, Executive Director of the CHPCA.

Hospice palliative care can be offered in a variety of settings, including the home. "According to a recent survey, 75% of Canadians would prefer to die at home, but only 51% believe they will be able to. Increasing awareness of hospice palliative care services and dispelling the myths around them will help improve access to these valuable services where Canadians want them – in their home," added Nadine Henningsen, Executive Director of the Canadian Home Care Association.

Chronic diseases account for 70% of all deaths, and if we do not have a functioning, integrated hospice palliative care system, even more of us will die emergency rooms. The CHPCA urges Canadians to share these statistics, whether it's with a friend or a provincial Minister of Parliament – it is time for us to raise our voices. Posters and bookmarks are available for order at www.chpca-acsp.org/week.

National Hospice Palliative Care Week is coordinated by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association. Funding for National Hospice Palliative Care Week is provided WeCare Home Health Services and Purdue Pharma. For more information, and promotional materials for National Hospice Palliative Care Week, please go to www.chpca-acsp.org/week.

[i] Rachlis, Michael.  Presentation to the Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN) Education Session, Toronto, Ontario, April 6, 2006