At BCCPC, one of our goals is to work with health system partners to advance palliative care practices. Often, improvements are incremental and build over time. Sometimes though, a project can be a catalyst for a major shift in how British Columbians with life-limiting illnesses receive care when they call 911. Our recent partnership with the BC Emergency Health Services (BCHES) is just such a project.
BCCPC’s Carolyn Tayler, then Director of Strategic Initiatives, heard about a pilot project funded by the Canadian Partnership against Cancer that aimed to keep and support palliative patients at home when they called 911, rather than automatically transporting them to hospital for care.
“At the event, paramedics told their own stories about how rewarding it was to give this kind of care,” says Carolyn. “I was riveted by the discussion and so inspired.”
She wasn’t the only one. BCHES were interested as well, and the two organizations worked together to apply for funding for the three-year pilot, which ran from 2019 to 2022.
Partnering for change
“We co-sponsored the project and were excited by the potential of what could be achieved. We brought our knowledge of palliative care and palliative care practitioners to the table.”
The three-year BC project is part of a pan-Canadian movement toward 911 responders working with palliative patients and supporting them at home.
The project is also evidence-based, and demonstrated its value: ultimately, time is saved by supporting in the home instead of taking the patient to Emergency, and the palliative approach leads to higher patient and family satisfaction and higher clinician satisfaction.
Such an important shift in service delivery required a new realm of education for BC’s paramedics, and that is where BCCPC’s expertise was especially helpful. Having developed a suite of core palliative care competencies for health care providers, BCCPC offered this resource to BCEHS as the foundation for their training.
Progress through challenging times
“From beginning to end, this project has been a delight to be involved in,” says Carolyn. “The people and the organizations stayed committed in the face of some enormous challenges – COVID and the overdose crisis – and they just kept going.”
Carolyn saves her greatest praise for the frontline paramedics who were willing to learn new skills and change long-held practices and are excited about how it will improve their practice.
“Paramedics are used to going into situations and doing something,” she explains. “Now taking a palliative approach, they go in and listen, assess the situation, and then act. It’s really the epitome of person-centred care.”
Want to know more?
Check out this story from BCEHS, with real-life examples of how this new approach to care is impacting BC families.
“Paramedics are used to going into situations and doing something. Now taking a palliative approach, they go in and listen, assess the situation and then act.
It’s the epitome of person-centred care.”
The project is evidence-based: the palliative approach leads to higher patient satisfaction and higher clinician satisfaction.