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.

Just Posted

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

RCMP to review actions at Wet’suwet’en pipeline protest camps

Senior Mountie says he hopes protests will be peaceful following deal with hereditary chiefs

Houston property assessments nudge up

District now working on 2019 spending plans

Houston youth turns himself in after arrest warrant issued for failing to appear in court

The youth is expected to plead guilty or not guilty in January

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

Chiasson nets shootout winner as Oilers edge Canucks 3-2

Edmonton moves one point ahead of Vancouver

B.C. chief says they didn’t give up rights for gas pipeline to be built

Hereditary chief: no elected band council or Crown authority has jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en land

Condo rental bans may be on way out with B.C. empty home tax

Many exemptions to tax, but annual declarations required

UPDATE: B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Truck hauling compressed gas for ‘virtual pipeline’ crashes on B.C. highway

Driver charged and highway closed for nine hours - containers did not rupture

Most Read