Better End-of-Life Care for Local Residents Starts with Crucial Conversations
Kitchener - Waterloo Wellington residents and health service providers are benefiting from a regional advance care planning (ACP) initiative to improve end-of-life care and increase efficiency in the health care system.
ACP is a process that facilitates critical conversations with residents, their families and health service providers about how they envision their end-of-life care experience.
In 2015, as part of the Waterloo Wellington LHIN strategy to improve palliative care and give more residents the ability to die at home or in whichever location best matches their wishes - the Waterloo Wellington LHIN Board of Directors approved a $1.2 million investment over three years for the development of a local initiative to provide residents with greater access to information about ACP.
The Advance Care Planning Waterloo Wellington (ACPWW) “Conversations Worth Having” program launched in early 2015 with the objectives of:
• Increasing health system capacity and ensuring consistent and appropriate ACP policies, procedures and practices are being used across the LHIN
• Encouraging residents and health service providers to have ACP conversations
• Increasing the quality of palliative care through consistent and correct ACP policies, procedures and practices
• More effective and efficient use of resources within the local health system
In the first year of the program, ACPWW conducted an extensive community engagement process that identified the biggest barrier for both residents and health service providers in having ACP conversations was access to information. A plan is now in place to address this.
• To date, ACPWW has conducted 330 engagements and distributed over 12,000 pieces of resource material to more than 3,000 local residents and health service providers.
• As a result of these engagements, there has been an increase in the local understanding of ACP and health service providers report having increased comfort in having these crucial conversations with their patients.
• Prior to participating in ACPWW education events, 62% of health service providers surveyed said they were somewhat uncomfortable having ACP conversations. Afterwards, 90% reported learning valuable information that can be used in their work to better support residents.
• Today, 85.7% of palliative patients in Waterloo Wellington are able to pass away in the place of their choice. That is an increase of 8% since December of 2014.
Over the next few years, ACPWW will continue to focus on education and building awareness of the importance of ACP and, as a result, we anticipate that will see several positive impacts to the health of local residents such as:
• a reduction in the number of days residents wait in hospital for palliative care,
• more residents being able to die in the place of their choosing, and
• improved end-of life experience for residents, their families and their caregivers.