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Hamilton Unready for Rising End-of-Life Care Needs, Case Study Finds


April 25, 2018

HAMILTON – A new case study of end-of-life care in Hamilton has found that the city’s “current infrastructure is not enough to handle the future needs of palliative care as the ‘silver tsunami’ of baby boomers draws near.” According to the study by Cardus senior researcher Doug Sikkema, Hamilton already has just 91 long-term care beds per thousand senior citizens. On average in any given month, there is a list of 762 patients waiting for a long-term care bed – where many Hamilton residents receive end-of-life care.

“When it comes to end-of-life care in Hamilton there is still a significant gap between what we need and what we have,” says Sikkema in the case study.

The study also found that while improving health infrastructure is important, it is insufficient on its own. Based on interviews with key stakeholders involved in palliative and end-of-life care in Hamilton, the report notes that the city needs:

  • Community-based end-of-life care that involves more than just medical professionals providing for the needs of the dying. This would give natural caregivers, such as family, friends, and faith communities, a larger role in helping those nearing the end of their lives.
  • Better coordination between the medical profession and other end-of-life care providers, such as hospices, home-care helpers, or community organizations. This would allow a seamless transition toward end-of-life support.
  • A cultural transformation in how we think about, prepare for, and talk about death. This would allow for better advanced planning and preparation for the end of life.

The Hamilton case study, and a companion study looking at the City of Ottawa, were released during two panel discussions on the evening of 24 April at McMaster Innovation Park. The panel discussions involved Dr. Joshua Shadd, Director of the Division of Palliative Care at McMaster University, Clare Freeman, Director of The Bob Kemp Hospice, and Rev. Dr. Bill DeJong, Pastor of Blessings Church, as well as MPPs John Fraser, France Gélinas, and Sam Oosterhoff discussing political responses to the need for better end-of-life care.


Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications