Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find hospice palliative care in my area?

Hospice palliative care is offered in a variety of places including hospitals, at home, nursing homes and freestanding hospice facilities. Each local community may differ in available resources. Ask your doctor, hospital discharge planner or local homecare organization for a local referral. You may find information in the yellow pages, by visiting the CHPCA Directory of Services or by accessing provincial associations.

How do I care for a loved one facing terminal illness?

As a caregiver, you play an extremely significant role in ensuring both physical and emotional well-being at the end of your loved one's life. It is important that you, your loved one, and your loved one's health care provider talk about what quality of life means and plan together to achieve this. This is called Advance Care Planning, you can access workbooks, conversation starters and more by visiting will need to consider your loved one's care needs, your own ability to provide care in a home or hospital setting, what support services are available and accessible, and availability of home care, hospital care or hospice facilities in your local area. Once you have made the necessary contacts, be sure to inquire about volunteer support and respite care to give you a much needed break.

Where can my family access support and counseling?

Begin by asking your health care provider to refer you to an appropriate counseling or bereavement service. Your local hospice palliative program may offer such services; alternatively, a local clergy person, social worker or funeral director may also provide or be aware of counseling services. Some of these same programs may have a bereavement coordinator or know of a grief support group. Many hospitals and hospices offer grief support for up to one year following the death of a loved one.

Is hospice palliative care only available at the time of death?

It is helpful to learn about hospice palliative care at the time of diagnosis or when a prognosis is confirmed. This helps the patient and family to plan for future needs. This allows for time to think and talk about options and choices, to consult with loved ones and make plans, which will support you through the course of your illness. Hospice palliative care services such as pain management, symptom control, respite and caregiver support help to improve your quality of life and should be accessed early.

Where can I get practical support such as financial aid or legal counsel?

Speak to your health care provider to determine which medical expenses are covered by provincial health insurance or private health insurance plans and those that you may have to pay for directly. In some communities, there may be charitable organizations that can provide financial assistance. The best person to provide legal advice is a lawyer. End of life planning may include a will, power of attorney, advance directives, "do not resuscitate" (also known as DNR) orders and more. For more helpful information and resources please visit You may also wish to discuss legal issues with your health care team and your loved ones.

Does a patient have a say in what kind of treatment and care they would prefer?

Yes. You, your health care provider and your loved ones need to talk about the various choices related to treatment and care to which you have access and the implications of such interventions. For example, do the treatments have side effects? Are there costs involved? Who pays? What are the probable outcomes? Does it require hospitalization?

Hospice palliative care is about options – choosing the kind of skilled, competent care that meets an individual’s particular needs and takes into account his or her social and family situation. It is about choice, teamwork, care of the whole person, comfort, compassion, communication and quality of life. Again, for more detailed information on establishing goals of care, please visit

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