Province extends drug coverage
Government investing an additional $750,000 for pain and symptom management
The province is extending a pilot project that provides drug coverage for pain and symptom management to those who wish to spend their last days at home.
Mary Hughes, chair of advocacy and education with the Hospice Palliative Care Association of P.E.I., said she is “delighted’’ with government’s decision to invest an additional $750,000 to continue covering the cost and delivery of the project over the next 18 months.
“ They extended it because it is working well,’’ said Hughes.
The Palliative Home Care Drug Pilot Project is an extension of the integrated Palliative Care Program, which aims to enhance client and family options for palliative care through access to trained, qualified health-care teams in the most appropriate setting.
The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association reports that more than 75 per cent of people prefer to die at home rather than in a hospital or other health-care facility.
“ We say that we provide total care in health-care facilities and we do but it can never be the same as home,’’ said Hughes.
“For people to be able to be at home — to die at home — for someone to tell you 24/7 ‘I love you’, because that is what it says, means so much.’’
Currie says the pilot project, which began operating one year ago, is designed to give people choices and to compassionately provide respect and dignity to individuals in the final stages of life.
“Giving individuals the option to remain at home helps strengthen communities and reduces the emotional and financial burden on families,’’ he said.
“ This project is a solid example of how improvements to services for Islanders are being achieved through integrated health system change.’’
Currie adds that an increase in palliative home care treatment takes pressure off the Island’s health-care system.
To make this project a provincial program, it must first be developed in phases based on recommendations that will be determined by the upcoming results of an on-going evaluation process. The pilot project manager and staff of the current Integrated Pal- liative Care Program are carrying out this process.
Currie, for one, likes what he sees so far.
“I think the numbers and the statistics that we showed today (Friday) was that this program is a good program, it is working well, and the investments that we have made into this program are continuing to show that it is for the right reasons,’’ he said.
Hughes hopes the government will extend the coverage to “people who are a little bit more mobile, up and around, so they can enjoy it for a longer period of time.’’
Eligibility for the project is based on a number of criteria that define the patient’s need for endof-life care.
Staff trained in palliative care work closely with family and caregivers to ensure the patient is a good fit.
Once it is determined that a patient qualifies, and is registered with Pharmacy Services, clients are able to obtain palliative specific medications from their own local pharmacist.
Dr. Mireille Lecours, left, provincial palliative care medical consultant, joins Premier Robert Ghiz and Mary Hughes of the Hospice Palliative Care Association of P.E.I. for an announcement Friday on government’s decision to expand the palliative home care drug pilot project.