B.C.’s homeless, vulnerable only receive adequate care when nearing death: study

Researchers out of the University of Victoria spent more than 300 hours with 25 homeless, barely-housed people with life-threatening sicknesses

A two-year study that followed 25 homeless or barely-housed people with life-threatening medical conditions in Victoria has found that many are only given appropriate health care once inching closer to death.

Researchers out of the University of Victoria spent more than 300 hours with the 25 people, following them to medical appointments and with social care workers, according to a report released Thursday.

The study also involved almost 150 interviews with those suffering, as well as with their close friends and family. Thirteen people died during the two-year study.

According to their report, researchers found that those living on the streets suffering from cancer, heart failure and lung disease are open to more vulnerabilities than those who are able to access palliative care – the end-of-life health services which include pain management, increased supports and help for caregivers.

READ MORE: Housing would cut number of B.C.’s vulnerable re-admitted to hospital: study

Kelli Stajduhar, lead investigator with UVic’s Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health, said in a news release that palliative care not only prevents and eases suffering, but alleviates the harms of homelessness through whole-person care addressing the basic needs lacking for street-entrenched people.

Kelli Stajduhar, lead researcher of ‘Too Little, Too Late’ (Submitted)

While the study found that people experience the same injustices while dying as they commonly face in their daily lives – including stigmatization, criminalization, racialization and exclusion – once they can access palliative care their access to food, shelter and social support increases.

“Being labelled ‘palliative’ opened people up to a basket of services and resources previously unavailable to them,” Stajduhar said.

READ MORE: Tent cities show urgency for affordable housing needed yesterday: advocates

Ten participants ended their lives in a palliative care unit, the report reads, where they reported they received the best care of their lives.

Grey Showler, director of health and support services with Victoria Cool Aid Society, said people dealing with homelessness and life-threatening conditions typically don’t get diagnosed until late in their illness, both due to “survival priorities” and poor treatment within the health care system.

People experiencing homelessness face many barriers to accessing care, he said, including policies that can prevent health care workers from entering sites where people are living and a lack of support for friends who are caring for them.

Researchers have made a number of recommendations that they believe will help bridge the gap between end-of-life care and some of Canada’s most vulnerable, including adapting policies to address barriers some face in formal health care settings, develop mobile palliative care services, and support non-traditional families in the decision-making process of someone’s health plan.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

WildSafe program wraps up quiet season for District of Kent, Harrison

Black bears biggest source of calls in the FVRD

Week of snow storms finally fades

Six snowstorms in seven days pours on more than 40 cm

VIDEO: Time’s running out for Montreal Alumni tickets in Hope

Habs will face off against Hope hockey players on Saturday afternoon

Westbound Highway 1 roll-over crash slowing commuters in Abbotsford

Accident occurred just west of Mt. Lehman Road, left lane blocked

5 to 10 cm of snow still coming to Fraser Valley: Environment Canada

Hard to say when the freezing rain will turn to regular rainfall, Environment Canada says

Protesters block entrance to Victoria government building to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A letter with four demands was delivered to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

VIDEO: Langley woman without a home after houseboat sinks during snowy weather

A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help the Grant’s Landing resident replace her possessions

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

‘Epic sky palace’: B.C. businesses help create dream treehouse for boy recovering from cancer

‘It was kind of a bright shining beacon at the end of a horrible, dark tunnel’

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

B.C. teacher suspended for poking student in stomach, pulling another’s ponytail

Teacher also swore in classroom, used Facebook to contact students

Larry Walker Jr. and Sr. keeping expectations low for hall-of-fame induction

Walker needs 75 percent of votes in order to be inducted into Cooperstown

Most Read