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CMA provides insights for improving palliative care

A number of recommendations for improving the quality of palliative care and access to such services in Canada have been made by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA).

The recommendations are included in a report prepared by CMA Past President Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, who visited several exemplary palliative care facilities across Canada and interviewed a number of physician leaders in the field.

Among the key recommendations:

  • All patients should have a primary care provider who can support their palliative care needs or refer them to a palliative care team.
  • All physicians should have the knowledge to provide basic palliative care services to their patients.
  • Provinces need properly funded, integrated, operational palliative care plans.

The report, co-authored by Francescutti and CMA staffer Jennie Ding, charts a personal odyssey by Francescutti. His goal was two-pronged: to better understand how excellent palliative care can be provided and to showcase where this is taking place.

As he explains in the document’s introduction, Francescutti spent a sabbatical year following his CMA presidency working at the West Island Palliative Care Residence in Kirkland, Que., where his mother received excellent care prior to her death.

“It became apparent to me that we needed a way to spread that story and the stories of others in the palliative care community across the country.”

With the support of the CMA, Francescutti reviewed palliative care models across Canada, as well as “shining a light” on physicians who are directly involved in delivering palliative care in a number of settings.

In his introduction to the report, Dr. Eric Wasylenko, a palliative care physician and clinical ethicist in Okotoks, Alta., told physicians “each of you who wish can do this work (palliative care), whether by caring well for your individual patients or by developing high-quality services within your community.

“Let’s make sure that all Canadians have access to the best care that we can offer in their journey of living and dying.”

CMA President Chris Simpson adds: “I commend Dr. Francescutti for his personal commitment and work in this area … He has provided a valuable service to showcase the excellent work being done in this area, and to inspire all physicians to consider making palliative care an essential part of their practices.” opportunities and physician leaders in palliative care

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