Tumbler Ridge Hospice & Palliative Care Society

We have asked for permission to reprint this thought provoking letter that was sent to society members. It raises a number of questions that are pertinent to the community, and which I think the reader will find of interest.The case example noted concerns the final six weeks of Palliative care during which the patient required 24 hour vigil by family or others.

The Editor

This letter is intended to address one very important inconsistency within the Health Care System as it is presently administered.

This ?case? concerns the funding of ?Care Aids? ? family costs for outside care of an individual classified as Palliative by M.D. opinion.

As we are presently aware, funding for this type of Care is NOT considered to be fundable by the Health Care System. Estimated costs ( by example) are $220.00 per day, even though this particular patient was cared for partially by the family.

Their costs were for six weeks.

The arithmetic is: $220 ( 20 hrs with four hours via Palliative Care volunteers) x7 days = $1540.00, x 6 weeks = $9240.00.

Note! Though a patient is classified Palliative if six months maximum life remaining is estimated by their M.D., this example utilizes the last 1 ½ months as requiring special care.

Should the patient be sent ( 911) to Acute Care in the Hospital, the costs to the Health Care System would be $900.00 per day plus Ambulance costs, and a bed taken out of service which would be useable for more appropriate Acute Care individuals, who cannot be ?Home-based?.

As well, the Palliative patient would much rather be in a family setting ( Hospice or home) than in a hospital ( final?) atmosphere.

Also, in some cases, there is severe emotional impact on the family when the family members must travel to an out-of-town hospital ? eg. to Chetwynd or Dawson Creek, especially when limited or no transportation is available.

Our Society in Tumbler Ridge is capable of helping, in many ways, the Palliative Patient with therapies not available in the hospital eg. music therapy, Life History generation, massages ( from professional practitioners), generated by our trained volunteers for limited times throughout their requested term for relief of the family member vigil.

Since our particular location is without close proximity to a hospital facility, we are without immediate access to a large number of trained persons to facilitate the care and attention needed by a patient in this needy time.

However, since we have announced the potential opening of a Hospice Facility, we have been made aware of several LPN?s and other trained persons who are available here ?apparently daily travel to Dawson Creek, and family considerations preclude full time commitments.

Short term contracts would be welcome, if available.

Should funding be available for this type of need, as, and when, recommended by the attending M.D., more persons would surely come forward for inclusion ?either at home or in the Hospice facility, or both.

Tumbler Ridge is now exposed to the needs of an increased number of employees- both Mining, Oil and Gas Industries, Lumber, and associated businesses- whose families may require assistance ? be it as Grief therapy, as well as with Palliative Care needs.

To be ready for this potential future need, our Society is looking, and working, for the future needs presently around us in Tumbler Ridge Town proper, as well as those within the District.

Our Town Council has obtained for the Society the potential use of a facility to be used as a Hospice, which, in our opinion, is admirably suited to provide the housing, and logistical support of the Palliative patient and associated family. The benefits emanating from extended funding would be difficult to fully appreciate until actual dollars are received. Our (potential) extended family units would create a new industry for the Town and District, as well as providing much more reassurance in the Health System as a whole.

It is not possible at this early juncture of our program to estimate the number of family units which would be attempting to access this

program, if available, though an estimate of four would seem to be reasonable. If four times a two to three month stay in the Hospice were the norm, this one unit may not be able to accommodate all needs at a later date. Possibly, there may be an ?overflow? type Unit requested through the B.C.Housing ? District of Tumbler Ridge (DTR) housing program.

We have discussed this funding ? accommodation question with Mr. Dave Price of Pouce Coupe Care Facility, Ms. Sandi Armitage, Regional Community Coordinator, Northern Health Authority, Rotary Manor, Dawson Creek, B.C. and others within the referral system of Northern Health.

It is only too apparent that the wait times for Care Facilities can be two to ten months, with access to Rotary Manor over one year. Our Palliative persons with six months or less to live will not, normally, be accepted within these facilities, and with the Pouce Coupe facility closing in the next two years, a Palliative person is relegated to hospital or home for their final passage.

I hope this attempt to outline the current thinking, practices, and accumulated data is informative as well as thought provoking.