Annual General Meeting January 24 – 26th, 2013

As representative of CASW I attended the annual face to face meeting of the QELCCC in Ottawa.  Approximately thirty-five national organizations are represented on this Coalition.

The first day featured an overview of The Way Forward.  The Coalition was awarded three year funding by the federal government and under the auspices of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association is an initiative to create a framework (road map) for an integrated palliative approach across all settings of care for patients and families faced with a life limiting illness.  Policy makers are paying more attention to the costs associated with the last year of life.  The cost of dying in Canada ranges from as low as $10,000 for a sudden death to between $30,000 and $40,000 for someone with a terminal disease.  The cost varies depending on where people die e.g. $36,000 to die in a chronic care facility compared to $16,000 to die at home.  Controlling or reducing the cost of dying could benefit the health care system, relieve pressure on health care resources and make it possible to re-allocate savings to other care.  This would be an incredible benefit to the individuals and families involved.

Although the majority of people die in hospital, there are economic benefits to home based hospice palliative care and this is often in line with what individuals would like for themselves.  Most people when asked would like to “die in their own beds”.  The Way Forward proceeds on the premise that a more cost efficient strategy may be to integrate a palliative care approach to care throughout the health care system.  Such an approach would ensure that clinicians in all settings would be able to recognize when patients and families can benefit from hospice palliative interventions, provide appropriate services and access support and advice from palliative care specialist physicians and/or nurses.  Costly transfers to hospitals and unwanted curative interventions could be avoided if the health care system could respond to patient and family needs in their local community. This approach would mean not only “the right care at the right time” but also care in settings patient prefer: in the home and community.

For discussion documents and resources on The Way Forward, please visit  Stakeholder dialogue is requested and encouraged and will assist this project.  This is a very exciting project and it is important that those social workers working in health care and in community settings are aware of the work that is being done in this area, e.g. a literature review, cost effectiveness analysis and integration of a palliative approach into the management of chronic, life threatening diseases.

The Annual General Meeting began on Friday, January 25th.  The Annual Report was distributed prior to the meeting.  To read a copy, please go to The Blueprint for Action 2010 to 2020 continues to provide a framework for the Coalition.

A financial report was given; the Coalition operates on a very minimal budget and the question of sustainability of the Coalition was raised.  Each of the Coalition committees; Advocacy, Communications, Research Utilization, Caregiver Support and Professional Education shared their work over the past year and on Saturday reviewed and updated their work plans, setting goals for the next year.

A Facilitated Skills Building Session on Research, Knowledge Translation and Advocacy was given by the QELCCC Research Utilization committee.  Knowledge translation is a recent term involving making users aware of knowledge and facilitating their use to improve health and health care systems – in other words closing the gap between what we know and what we do.

The meeting also focused on Speak Up – Start the Conversation about End-of- Life Care.  Advance Care Planning Day is April 16th, 2013.  A tool kit and dvd are available at  This would be a useful tool for all social workers to review.

The QELCCC has been an exceptionally active and successful Coalition and has raised substantially the issue of palliative care, not just for cancer patients, but for all those with life limiting diseases.  Awareness has been raised at the government and public level.  This is due to the untiring efforts of Coalition members and the administrative leadership, support and assistance provided by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association.

This is an important Coalition for the Canadian Association of Social Workers and I recommend our continued representation. 

Marlene Chatterson, M.S.W., R.S.W. (Sask.)