WHEREAS the demographic trend in Alberta suggests that, over the next 25 years, the population aged 80 and older will double, potentially constituting up to 7% of Alberta’s total population; and
WHEREAS the Government of Alberta recognizes that adopting a palliative care approach upon the diagnosis of life-limiting diseases not only enhances patients’ quality of life but also serves as a cost-effective strategy in managing healthcare expenditure; and
WHEREAS community providers, including non-profit hospice societies, are facing a growing demand to deliver palliative end-of-life care (PEOLC); and
WHEREAS the ability to meet the Alberta Health Services (AHS) accepted standard for PEOLC bed capacity is severely limited by the lack of a province-wide, sustainable funding model; and
WHEREAS the AHS Rural Palliative Care In-Home Funding Program can only be used to cover end-of life care received at home and cannot be utilized to cover end-of-life care provided by hospice societies in their facilities; and
WHEREAS the Government of Alberta’s former Palliative End-of-Life Care Grant Fund provided one-time funding and excluded operational costs for hospice societies;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta advocate for the Government of Alberta to implement a sustainable operational funding model for the provision of hospice services by community hospice societies across the province.
There has been ongoing engagement from the Government of Alberta regarding Palliative End-of-Life Care (PEOLC), highlighting the importance of these supports and services to Albertans. The need to develop the capacity of these community services, especially in rural settings, is clear; the following provincial frameworks and reports are all consistent in that message:
What remains is the question of continual operational funding for PEOLC hospice community providers.
The Government of Alberta identified the service gaps that exist for PEOLC needs in Alberta in the Advancing Palliative and End-of-Life Care in Alberta Final Report November 2021. The report included the following recommendation:
Government, AHS, and their partners, should grow and expand community-based PEOLC services via home and community care programs and facility-based continuing care…Stand-alone hospices face challenges in maintaining sustainable operational budgets and workforce.
The Government of Alberta committed $20 million over four years to improve PEOLC by shifting from hospital to community-based care; raising awareness of how and when to access PEOLC; developing effective caregiver supports; and establishing education, training and standards for health professionals. The funds were entirely allocated as of 2022 and were not eligible for hospice societies’ operational expenses.
Non-profit hospice societies who are already operating in communities and working towards expanding these important services in Alberta have been left in budget purgatory. They are actively working towards a priority identified by the Government of Alberta, but reliant on fundraising for operational funding.
Correcting the disparity between the funding available to patients who choose to receive PEOLC in-home versus in a hospice suite is an immediate solution that could address these challenges while the economic analysis of reallocating health care financial resources in accordance with the shift from hospital to community-based hospice care is completed.
Municipalities must advocate for the allocation of financial resources to these valuable supports and services provided in their communities.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.