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Evidence to Improve Care

Palliative Care

Care for Adults With a Progressive, Life-Limiting Illness

Click below to see a list of brief quality statements and scroll down for more information.


Quality standards are sets of concise statements designed to help health care professionals easily and quickly know what care to provide, based on the best evidence.

See below for the quality statements and click for more detail.

Quality Statement 1: Identification and Assessment of Needs
People with a progressive, life-limiting illness have their palliative care needs identified early through a comprehensive and holistic assessment.


Quality Statement 2: Timely Access to Palliative Care Support
People with identified palliative care needs have access to palliative care support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Quality Statement 3: Advance Care Planning—Substitute Decision-Maker
People with a progressive, life-limiting illness know who their future substitute decision-maker is. They engage in ongoing communication with their substitute decision-maker about their wishes, values, and beliefs, so that the substitute decision-maker is empowered to participate in the health care consent process if required.


Quality Statement 4: Goals of Care Discussions and Consent
People with identified palliative care needs or their substitute decision-makers have discussions with their interdisciplinary health care team about their goals of care to help inform their health care decisions. These values-based discussions focus on ensuring an accurate understanding of both the illness and treatment options so the person or their substitute decision-maker has the information they need to give or refuse consent to treatment.


Quality Statement 5: Individualized, Person-Centred Care Plan
People with identified palliative care needs collaborate with their primary care provider and other health care professionals to develop an individualized, person-centred care plan that is reviewed and updated regularly.


Quality Statement 6: Management of Pain and Other Symptoms
People with identified palliative care needs have their pain and other symptoms managed effectively, in a timely manner.


Quality Statement 7: Psychosocial Aspects of Care
People with identified palliative care needs receive timely psychosocial support to address their mental, emotional, social, cultural, and spiritual needs.


Quality Statement 8: Education for Patients, Substitute Decision-Makers, Families, and Caregivers
People with a progressive, life-limiting illness, their future substitute decision-maker, their family, and their caregivers are offered education about palliative care and information about available resources and supports.


Quality Statement 9: Caregiver Support
Families and caregivers of people with identified palliative care needs are offered ongoing assessment of their needs, and are given access to resources, respite care, and grief and bereavement support, consistent with their preferences.


Quality Statement 10: Transitions in Care
People with identified palliative care needs experience seamless transitions in care that are coordinated effectively among settings and health care providers.


Quality Statement 11: Setting of Care and Place of Death
People with identified palliative care needs, their substitute decision-maker, their family, and their caregivers have ongoing discussions with their health care professionals about their preferred setting of care and place of death.


Quality Statement 12: Interdisciplinary Team-Based Care
People with identified palliative care needs receive integrated care from an interdisciplinary team, which includes volunteers.


Quality Statement 13: Education for Health Care Providers and Volunteers
People receive palliative care from health care providers and volunteers who possess the appropriate knowledge and skills to deliver high-quality palliative care.


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Timely Access to Palliative Care Support

People with identified palliative care needs have access to palliative care support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


People with a progressive, life-limiting illness may have complex needs that require advice, resources, treatment, or support, and those needs may change over time. The needs of people with a progressive, life-limiting illness (and those of their families and caregivers) often arise during the evening, overnight, or on the weekend. Palliative care support should be available whenever the person needs it, at any time of day or night. Appropriate palliative care support is determined based on a person’s individual needs and does not necessarily mean continuous, around-the-clock care or services.

The availability of coordinated and integrated palliative care support from a knowledgeable and skilled interdisciplinary care team is important to meet patient, family, and caregiver needs. With education to build capacity, palliative care needs can be addressed by primary care providers through primary-level palliative care (a palliative approach to care). Some complex palliative care needs may require consultation and clinician-to-clinician support (shared care) or may require greater involvement or transfer to specialist palliative care teams. All people, regardless of their diagnosis, prognosis, or location, should be able to access palliative care support appropriate to their needs at any time.

For Patients, Families, and Caregivers

Palliative care support should be available for you whenever you need it, day or night.


For Clinicians

Ensure that people with identified palliative care needs have access to palliative care support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as needed.


For Health Services

Ensure that systems, processes, and resources are in place so that people with identified palliative care needs can receive palliative care support whenever they need it, at any time of day or night.

Structural Indicator

Local availability of palliative care support (as defined above) that is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

  • Data source: local data collection


Outcome Indicator

Percentage of people with identified palliative care needs (or their caregivers) who state that they are able to receive community palliative care support, including after-hours care, when needed

  • Denominator: total number of people with identified palliative care needs (or their caregivers)

  • Numerator: number of people in the denominator who state that they are able to receive community palliative care support, including after-hours care, when needed

  • Data source: local data collection

Palliative care support

Palliative care support consists of health advice, resources, treatment, and other assistance provided by the health care team to meet a person’s palliative care needs. Support should be culturally relevant and it can come in many forms, including a telephone call with a registered nurse; a number to call when pain or other symptoms are not well managed; or a home visit from a primary care or palliative care provider.

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