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1.
BMJ Open ; 11(12): e055789, 2021 12 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1550966

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Canadians have had legal access to medical assistance in dying (MAiD) since 2016. However, despite substantial overlap in populations who request MAiD and who require palliative care (PC) services, policies and recommended practices regarding the optimal relationship between MAiD and PC services are not well developed. Multiple models are possible, including autonomous delivery of these services and formal or informal coordination, collaboration or integration. However, it is not clear which of these approaches are most appropriate, feasible or acceptable in different Canadian health settings in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the post-pandemic period. The aim of this qualitative study is to understand the attitudes and opinions of key stakeholders from the government, health system, patient groups and academia in Canada regarding the optimal relationship between MAiD and PC services. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: A qualitative, purposeful sampling approach will elicit stakeholder feedback of 25-30 participants using semistructured interviews. Stakeholders with expertise and engagement in MAiD or PC who hold leadership positions in their respective organisations across Canada will be invited to provide their perspectives on the relationship between MAiD and PC; capacity-building needs; policy development opportunities; and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the relationship between MAiD and PC services. Transcripts will be analysed using content analysis. A framework for integrated health services will be used to assess the impact of integrating services on multiple levels. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This study has received ethical approval from the University Health Network Research Ethics Board (No 19-5518; Toronto, Canada). All participants will be required to provide informed electronic consent before a qualitative interview is scheduled, and to provide verbal consent prior to the start of the qualitative interview. Findings from this study could inform healthcare policy, the delivery of MAiD and PC, and enhance the understanding of the multilevel factors relevant for the delivery of these services. Findings will be disseminated in conferences and peer-reviewed publications.

2.
BMJ Open ; 11(10): e053124, 2021 10 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1495470

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Communicable disease epidemics and pandemics magnify the health inequities experienced by marginalised populations. People who use substances suffer from high rates of morbidity and mortality and should be a priority to receive palliative care, yet they encounter many barriers to palliative care access. Given the pre-existing inequities to palliative care access for people with life-limiting illnesses who use substances, it is important to understand the impact of communicable disease epidemics and pandemics such as COVID-19 on this population. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: We will conduct a scoping review and report according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews reporting guidelines. We conducted a comprehensive literature search in seven bibliographical databases from the inception of each database to August 2020. We also performed a grey literature search to identify the publications not indexed in the bibliographical databases. All the searches will be rerun in April 2021 to retrieve recently published information because the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing at the time of this writing. We will extract the quantitative data using a standardised data extraction form and summarise it using descriptive statistics. Additionally, we will conduct thematic qualitative analyses and present our findings as narrative summaries. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethics approval is not required for a scoping review. We will disseminate our findings to healthcare providers and policymakers through professional networks, digital communications through social media platforms, conference presentations and publication in a scientific journal.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Communicable Diseases , Humans , Palliative Care , Pandemics , Research Design , Review Literature as Topic , SARS-CoV-2 , Systematic Reviews as Topic
3.
Curr Treat Options Oncol ; 22(5): 44, 2021 04 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1172399

ABSTRACT

OPINION STATEMENT: Evidence from randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses has shown that early integration of specialized palliative care improves symptoms and quality of life for patients with advanced cancer. There are various models of early integration, which may be classified based on setting of care and method of palliative care referral. Most successful randomized controlled trials of early palliative care have used a model of specialized teams providing in-person palliative care in free-standing or embedded outpatient clinics. During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has become a prominent model for palliative care delivery. This model of care has been well received by patients and palliative care providers, although evidence to date is limited. Despite evidence from trials that routine early integration of palliative care into oncology care improves patient outcomes, referral to palliative care still occurs mostly according to the judgment of individual oncologists. This hinders equitable access to palliative care and to its known benefits for patients and their caregivers. Automated referral based on triggering criteria is being actively explored as an alternative. In particular, routine technology-assisted symptom screening, combined with targeted needs-based automatic referral to outpatient palliative care, may improve integration and ultimately increase quality of life.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Neoplasms/therapy , Palliative Care , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Ambulatory Care , Delivery of Health Care , Humans , Medical Oncology/trends , Neoplasms/epidemiology , Neoplasms/virology , Oncologists
4.
Am J Hosp Palliat Care ; 38(7): 877-882, 2021 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1171345

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: During the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals worldwide have reported large volumes of patients with refractory symptoms and a large number of deaths attributable to COVID-19. This has led to an increase in the demand for palliative care beyond what can be provided by most existing programs. We developed a scalable model to enable continued provision of high-quality palliative care during a pandemic for hospitals without a palliative care unit or existing dedicated palliative care beds. METHODS: A COVID-19 consultation service working group (CWG) was convened with stakeholders from palliative care, emergency medicine, critical care, and general internal medicine. The CWG connected with local palliative care teams to ensure a coordinated response, and developed a model to ensure high-quality palliative care provision. RESULTS: Our 3-step scalable model included: (1) consultant model enhanced by virtual care; (2) embedded model; and (3) cohorted end-of-life unit for COVID-19 positive patients. This approach was enabled through tools and resources to ensure specialist palliative care capacity and rapid upskilling of all clinicians to deliver basic palliative care. Enabling tools and resources included a triage tool for in-person versus virtual care, new medication order sets and guidelines to facilitate prescribing for common symptoms, and lead advance care planning and goals of care discussions. A redeployment plan of generalist physicians and psychiatrists was created to ensure seamless provision of serious illness care. CONCLUSION: This 3-step, scalable approach enables rapid upscaling of palliative care in collaboration with generalist physicians, and may be adapted for future pandemics or natural disasters.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/therapy , Palliative Care/organization & administration , Pandemics , Humans , Inpatients
5.
Support Care Cancer ; 29(5): 2501-2507, 2021 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-757234

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 was first reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019; it rapidly spread around the world and was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization in March 2020. The palliative care program at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto, Canada, provides comprehensive care to patients with advanced cancer and their families, through services including an acute palliative care unit, an inpatient consultation service, and an ambulatory palliative care clinic. In the face of a global pandemic, palliative care teams are uniquely placed to support patients with cancer who also have COVID-19. This may include managing severe symptoms such as dyspnea and agitation, as well as guiding advance care planning and goals of care conversations. In tandem, there is a need for palliative care teams to continue to provide care to patients with advanced cancer who are COVID-negative but who are at higher risk of infection and adverse outcomes related to COVID-19. This paper highlights the unique challenges faced by a palliative care team in terms of scaling up services in response to a global pandemic while simultaneously providing ongoing support to their patients with advanced cancer at a tertiary cancer center.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Neoplasms/therapy , Canada/epidemiology , Humans , Palliative Care/methods , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Tertiary Care Centers
6.
J Pain Symptom Manage ; 62(3): 615-618, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1065377

ABSTRACT

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) first emerged in China in December 2019 and was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020. Clinicians around the world looked to cities that first experienced major surges to inform their preparations to prevent and manage the impact the pandemic would bring to their patients and health care systems. Although this information provided insight into how COVID-19 could affect the Canadian palliative care system, it remained unclear what to expect. Toronto, the largest city in Canada, experienced its first known case of COVID-19 in January 2020, with the first peak in cases occurring in April and its second wave beginning this September. Despite warnings of increased clinical loads, as well as widespread shortages of staff, personal protection equipment, medications, and inpatient beds, the calls to action by international colleagues to support the palliative care needs of patients with COVID-19 were not realized in Toronto. This article explores the effects of the pandemic on Toronto's palliative care planning and reports of clinical load and capacity, beds, staffing and redeployment, and medication and PPE shortages. The Toronto palliative care experience illustrates the international need for strategies to ensure the integration of palliative care into COVID-19 management, and to optimize the use of palliative care systems during the pandemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Canada , Humans , Palliative Care , SARS-CoV-2
7.
Eur J Cancer ; 136: 95-98, 2020 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-640854

ABSTRACT

The lack of integration between public health approaches, cancer care and palliative and end-of-life care in the majority of health systems globally became strikingly evident in the context of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. At the same time, the collapse of the boundaries between these domains imposed by the pandemic created unique opportunities for intersectoral planning and collaboration. While the challenge of integration is not unique to oncology, the organisation of cancer care and its linkages to palliative care and to global health may allow it to be a demonstration model for how the problem of integration can be addressed. Before the pandemic, the large majority of individuals with cancer in need of palliative care in low- and middle-income countries and the poor or marginalised in high-income countries were denied access. This inequity was highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as individuals in impoverished or population-dense settings with weak health systems have been more likely to become infected and to have less access to medical care and to palliative and end-of-life care. Such inequities deserve attention by government, financial institutions and decision makers in health care. However, there has been no framework in most countries for integrated decision-making that takes into account the requirements of public health, clinical medicine and palliative and end-of-life care. Integrated planning across these domains at all levels would allow for more coordinated resource allocation and better preparedness for the inevitability of future systemic threats to population health.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Delivery of Health Care/organization & administration , Healthcare Disparities , Medical Oncology/organization & administration , Neoplasms/therapy , Palliative Care/organization & administration , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Public Health , Terminal Care/organization & administration , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Health Services Accessibility , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
8.
Clin Cancer Res ; 26(18): 4737-4742, 2020 09 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-629986

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 global pandemic has drastically impacted cancer care, posing challenges in treatment and diagnosis. There is increasing evidence that cancer patients, particularly those who have advanced age, significant comorbidities, metastatic disease, and/or are receiving active immunosuppressive therapy may be at higher risk of COVID-19 severe complications. Controlling viral spread from asymptomatic carriers in cancer centers is paramount, and appropriate screening methods need to be established. Universal testing of asymptomatic cancer patients may be key to ensure safe continuation of treatment and appropriate hospitalized patients cohorting during the pandemic. Here we perform a comprehensive review of the available evidence regarding SARS-CoV-2 testing in asymptomatic cancer patients, and describe the approach adopted at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (Toronto, Canada) as a core component of COVID-19 control.


Subject(s)
Clinical Laboratory Techniques/methods , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , Point-of-Care Testing , Asymptomatic Diseases/epidemiology , Betacoronavirus/genetics , COVID-19 , COVID-19 Testing , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Early Diagnosis , Humans , Neoplasms/pathology , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2
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