Although specialized palliative care services in rural areas are scarce, many people who are dying, and their families, want to remain in their homes or within their own community. As such, semirural communities across Canada have developed a variety of initiatives to address this need. The purpose of our paper is to describe a semirural palliative care program located in British Columbia.
We used univariate and bivariate analyses to examine all patients for whom a palliative care bed was requested in the Saanich Peninsula Hospital Palliative Care Unit (PCU) between Jan. 1, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2006.
Data suggest that there is provision of care for local residents in this semirural community. Throughout 2005 and 2006, SPH received a total of 411 requests for a palliative care bed with about three-quarters of admissions coming from other units within the hospital and from local residents.
Use of services data collected from hospital charts can provide valuable information to help inform program and policy decision-makers. Yet such information is limited in relation to answering the question of whether the end-of-life needs of local residents are being met. Future studies should consider input from families and patients to enhance our understanding of the role of a PCU in a semirural environment.