Public opinion polls consistently show that nearly all Canadians support palliative care. And as our population ages, a great many of us will need access to it when the time comes.
At Dying With Dignity Canada, we are intimately aware of the many benefits of palliative care and understand that Canadians want better access to it. As part of our human-rights advocacy, we work to identify and address the unfair barriers that separate suffering people from the care they need.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care is about more than just alleviating a person’s pain. It is about improving quality of life for a person with a serious, life-limiting illness and for their loved ones. In addition to managing a person’s physical pain, it aims to ensure that the person is comfortable and is receiving adequate support, wherever they are receiving care. Palliative care addresses the person’s emotional, psychosocial and spiritual needs, and it helps their loved ones cope with the experience of caring for someone with a serious illness.
Palliative care is an essential option for people at end of life. However, not everyone who needs palliative care is necessarily dying. A suffering person can receive palliative care early in the course of their illness. In addition, palliative care is often provided in conjunction with other treatments that are aimed at extending a person’s life, such as chemotherapy and radiation.
Dying With Dignity Canada’s role
As the leading defender of Canadians’ end-of-life rights, we at Dying With Dignity Canada have an important role to play in ensuring fair access to palliative care. Through our Personal Support Program, we educate Canadians and their families about palliative care and where to find it. We also identify gaps in the system and provide recommendations on how they could be filled.
Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that Canadians have equitable access to all their legal end-of-life options, in accordance with the principles of the Canada Health Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. After all, Canadians have a right to choice when it comes to their own end-of-life journey. That’s what “dying with dignity” is all about.