Improving life before death

A new palliative care program will help people die with dignity in their own community surrounded by family and friends.

A new palliative care program will help people die with dignity in their own community surrounded by family and friends.

The four-year, $1-million Yukon Palliative Care Program assists people — family, friends or health-care professionals — who are improving the lives of the dying across the territory.

The multi-disciplinary Health and Social Services program includes consulting services, public and professional education, and training for volunteers in the community.

The program is created ‘without walls,’ meaning it’s offered wherever patients and family are.

An expansion of the Telehealth Network will make the program available in all Yukon communities through video teleconferencing.

“It is important for palliative patients to remain, wherever possible, in their home communities, surrounded by family and loved ones,” said program manager Sharon Specht.

An advisory committee of health-care professionals from Whitehorse General Hospital, Hospice Yukon, First Nation health programs, pharmacists, local physicians and continuing care staff will support the program.

The group worked to create the program, which includes a volunteer co-ordinator, a registered nurse and a social worker.

“(The program) helps address the needs of the family, both in terms of practical issues, as well as coping throughout illness and bereavement,” said Specht.