Stop the transfer of hospice and long-term care beds to
faith-based organizations

A forced transfer happens when patients are forced to move out of their room to be transported elsewhere in the facility or, more commonly, by ambulance to a different facility for the provision of MAID.

Home / Advocacy / Forced transfers in British Columbia  / Stop the transfer of hospice and long-term care beds to faith-based organizations

We have all had the privilege of caring for people throughout their entire life journey. Many of the patients we care for may find themselves spending their final weeks and months in assisted living and long-term care facilities and hospices. Medical assistance in dying (MAID) has been legal in Canada since 2016 and many patients are familiar with it. Some may have an expectation that they may access this service wherever their new home is, which includes assisted living and long-term care facilities, as well as hospices.

Unfortunately, over the last year, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) Authority has been transferring the operation of some of these facilities to faith-based organizations which are permitted to prohibit the provision of MAID in their facilities – despite receiving substantial government funding.

Recently, VCH declared that it would be handing over May’s Place Hospice to Providence Health Care which means that dying patients who choose MAID will have to be physically transported out of their beds in what is termed a “forced transfer.”

A forced transfer happens when patients are forced to move out of their room to be transported elsewhere in the facility or, more commonly, by ambulance to a different facility for the provision of MAID. Currently, this is happening in several faith-based facilities including the Palliative Care Unit at St. Paul’s Hospital.

VCH encompasses two faith-based hospices: St. John Hospice at UBC and Salvation Army Rotary Hospice in Richmond. A third, May’s Place Hospice in the Downtown Eastside, is now being handed over to PCH. This will result in 16 of 34 hospice beds (47%) in the City of Vancouver and 26 of 64 hospice beds (41%) within VCH’s territory being operated by faith-based organizations opposed to MAID.

Patients in palliative care units, hospices, and long-term care are the most vulnerable and frail. When they choose MAID to end their suffering, their distress is compounded further by a forced transfer. Such transfers are physically demanding for the patient and emotionally draining and unsettling for the family and patient. One who had bony metastases found the transfers to and from stretchers and the bumpy ride in the van excruciatingly painful. Another very cachectic patient got chilled from a transfer on a cold winter day and couldn’t be kept warm. One came from a calm peaceful hospice to a building with workers using jackhammers. Another had his catheter unhooked during the transfer and arrived soaked in urine. These were not dignified deaths and the patients involved experienced profound disruptions and a loss of control in the final moments of their lives. We know of others who canceled MAID only because they could not tolerate the transfer. The forced transfer process must end.

We have attached on the side a proposed letter which we hope you will personalize by editing the text, and send through automated links to the Premier and the Minister of Health.  

Empower. Inform. Protect your rights.