Province announces funding for palliative care beds in Durham

The provincial government has committed funding to make it easier for families in Durham to access end-of-life and palliative care.

Government officials and representatives from a number of area healthcare organizations recently gathered at the Oak Ridges Hospice site in Port Perry to announce funding for 20 new beds at three sites.

According to a press release, the beds will be able to serve approximately 200 to 300 more patients and their families each year, increasing access to compassionate end-of-life support that relieves suffering and improves the quality of living and dying.

“I believe it is our role as a community to help those who need it most. Hospices are special places that provide compassionate care to patients and families at a challenging time in their lives. They are a critical part of Ontario’s plan to ensure access to high-quality hospice palliative care,” said John Fraser, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

“As hospices serve as some of the most compassionate and comfortable places for people to spend their last days, I am happy to see that our government will be supporting the opening of 20 new hospice palliative care beds in Durham. I commend the teams of the Oak Ridges Hospice, Clarington Hospice and VON for pursuing provincial support, as in working together, we will be able to expand and provide more Durham patients with quality end-of-life care,” added Durham MPP Granville Anderson.

The Province will provide annual support for five new beds at both the Oak Ridges Hospice in Port Perry and the Clarington Hospice, with construction expected to begin in fall and late 2017, respectively.

“For those living with a life-threatening illness, or providing care for a loved one as they near end-of-life, our hospices will offer a much-needed alternative to an acute-care hospital. Oak Ridges Hospice will be a tranquil, home-like residence where a dedicated team of specially trained medical, nursing, support staff and volunteers will provide compassionate care and comfort, free of charge, to Durham residents and their loved ones throughout the end-of-life journey,” said Dr. Steve Russell, chair of the board of directors for Oak Ridges Hospice.

“We are pleased and excited to be embarking on this residential hospice project with our partners in Durham Region. The Province’s committed investment in this important work will give our combined efforts the boost needed to engage community donors and partners in this work,” added Melodie Zarzeczny, the chair of Durham Hospice – Clarington board of directors.

As well, ongoing funding will be provided to a new 10-bed hospice in Durham West/Whitby that will be built by the Victorian Order of Nurses.

“We commend the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Central East LHIN for making hospice palliative care a priority. We know from our day-to-day work providing community-based hospice care that this is an important need, and we look forward to the engagement and participation of the entire community in bringing these projects to life,” said VON Durham Whitby Hospice Chair Christine Raynor.

“Palliative and end-of-life care is an area of focus for the Central East LHIN. As the population continues to age and chronic illness and advanced co-morbid conditions become increasingly common, we know, through our engagement with patients and caregivers and our health care stakeholders, that ensuring timely access to quality palliative and end-of-life care is not only an ethical imperative but a vital component of our health care system,” added Central East Local Health Integration Network Chair Louis O’Brien.

“We value the collaborative work being done by the partners in Durham Region to provide end-of-life services to local residents when a home death is not possible.”