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12/06/13 Interlake-Eastern RHA Introduces Regional Palliative Care Program

June 12, 2013 – The Interlake Eastern RHA is introducing a regional palliative care program that better aligns physician and nursing care, psycho-social support, home care services and volunteer coordination for individuals living with life threatening health concerns and their families.

According to Karen Stevens-Chambers, Interlake-Eastern RHA's director of home care and palliative care services, the regional program incorporates changes requested by community members and it reflects programs that model excellent end of life care.

“We reviewed palliative care programs across Manitoba and elsewhere and listened to concerns raised by community based palliative care boards as we worked to evolve our delivery of palliative care programs across the region,” Stevens-Chambers said. “We've developed what we believe will be a much more streamlined process to help people access the care, services and equipment that they require whether they are in a hospital, long-term care facility or their own home.”

Two nurses who specialize in palliative care are now working to coordinate clients' care and services. These nurses work with hospital, long-term care or home care staff to manage clients' pain and symptoms. To ensure clients receive the daily care required, the services of the two nurses are directly linked with the home care services. Tammie-Lee Rogowski (Stonewall), a certified hospice palliative care nurse and a certified community health nurse, will be managing the region's palliative care nurses along with nursing services provided through the home care services.

Interlake-Eastern RHA is also moving to improve psycho-social support, specific to palliative care patients and families, with the establishment of psycho-social specialists on the eastern and western sides of the region. These individuals will provide counseling and support to clients and families. Stevens-Chambers anticipates these positions being filled by early October 2013.

A volunteer coordinator is being established to support, educate and direct individuals volunteering as companions to clients in the palliative care program. This position is also anticipated to be filled by early October, 2013.

People volunteering with the region's four palliative care boards and committees servicing Selkirk, Gimli, Stonewall, Highway 6, and the surrounding areas will now have the opportunity to focus on supporting palliative care clients and their families or to continue fundraising for equipment and supplies that complement the services offered through the palliative care program.

“The compassion that volunteers have contributed, and will continue to contribute, to the palliative care program reminds us all that one of the best parts of living is making life brighter for others with our presence and the things that we do,” Stevens-Chambers said. “We are incredibly grateful to these individuals who bring an additional dimension of care to our programs as volunteers.”

Within the Interlake-Eastern RHA, staff composed palliative care committees are being established for staff members who recognize opportunities to improve the palliative care program and who are interested in leading the changes that will continue to evolve and improve the region's delivery of palliative care.

In the future, the region is seeking to secure a palliative care physician who will provide medical expertise to support front line care.

At any given time, approximately 100 people in the Interlake-Eastern region are receiving care through the palliative care program. This equates to 300 people annually who use palliative care services in the region. The Interlake-Eastern RHA invests approximately $5 million to care for palliative care patients in hospitals, long-term care facilities and at people's homes in the region.

Click here for more information on the program and for Interlake-Eastern RHA palliative care contact information.

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