Canadian paramedics helping give the choice to die at home

Paramedic Matt Rousselle makes his way to the front door of a modest, two-storey house in Arnprior, Ont., in the Ottawa Valley.

There’s no siren, and he’s not here to administer the emergency medicine that most of us think of when it comes to paramedics. He’s not even travelling in an ambulance.

Rousselle is a community paramedic, and he’s here to check on 94-year-old Billie Hobbs, who is experiencing end-stage heart failure.

“We’re going to see a palliative patient — she’s a newly deemed palliative patient — just to go see how her daughter is handling everything, and see how the patient’s doing,” Rousselle tells Dr. Brian Goldman, host of White Coat, Black Art, during a visit to the Hobbs residence last summer.

Goldman has travelled to the area to see first-hand a program that’s bringing badly needed care to people with limited access to doctors and hospice beds in the final days of their lives.

Palliative care, which aims to ease suffering and improve quality of life, is in short supply both in sparsely populated areas like the one where Hobbs lives and larger urban centres. A Canadian Institute for Health Information report found that most Canadians with a terminal illness would choose to die at home if they could access palliative care, but only 15 per cent are able to do so.

“If we’re behind in one area, it’s really giving the support to family caregivers that is required to allow a successful home death,” said Prof. Barbara Pesut, who studies equitable access to end-of-life care and holds the Canada Research Chair Canada in health, ethics and diversity.

Pesut says different jurisdictions have come up with some creative ways to tackle the problem in recent years. Among them are programs that enable paramedics to provide care to palliative care patients at home, as well as invaluable support to their families.

Read full article Credit: eHospice