To the Editor:
In 2014, the provincial government announced its provincial palliative care strategy as a means for improving care and services for patients and their families facing life limiting illnesses.
Since then we have seen some improvements, for which the government and the health authority are to be commended. Despite these improvements, there are still inequities in access to services across the province, and people die with symptoms poorly managed. The Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association believes that all Nova Scotians should have access to quality end of life care.
To achieve this, our provincial government must work to support a system that will allow hospice palliative care to be introduced earlier in treatment, enabling us to live well, on terms consistent with our values.
Research demonstrates that early introduction of palliative care, combined with treatment, leads to better quality of life for patients and their families, better access and use of hospice services and, in some cases, patients live longer. Hospice palliative care needs to be integrated and accessible in every setting where we live and die — at home, in long term care, in our hospitals. Families need access to medical, social and practical supports. Resources are needed to support and educate our health care providers, caregivers and the public.
Approximately 9,000 people die in Nova Scotia every year and research estimates that, for each death, five people are impacted. A good death is a part of life, and our soon-to-be elected provincial government must provide the leadership and support to make dying well a reality for all Nova Scotians.
Colleen Cash, Executive Director
Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association