Collaborating to meet a shared goal: quality of life


Staff from Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre’s Palliative Care Unit (PCU) and Palliative Care Initiative (PCI) recently celebrated their collaboration to provide the best possible care to their patients by allowing for seamless patient care.

The focus of palliative care at Sunnybrook & Women’s is a holistic and compassionate one. The palliative care team strives to provide comfort and care that will enrich the quality of life for individuals who are at the end stage of a terminal illness.

Palliative care offers a broad range of services to address individual needs of patients, their families and significant others. The professionals and volunteers on the palliative care team have a special sensitivity and training. They are committed to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and their significant others.

“Your caring ways, not only of my mother’s physical needs, but also her emotional and spiritual needs, allowed her a quality of life we never could have imagined.”

Family member

The Palliative Care Unit supports adults who are experiencing the end stage of a terminal illness, offering emotional, social and spiritual care to them and their families and significant others, while respecting diverse cultures, values and beliefs.

This creates an environment that enables the patient and their loved ones to make informed choices and develop the best possible plan of care. The unit itself is located on the first floor of Kilgour Wing overlooking a park-like setting, designed to create a comfortable home-like environment.

The Palliative Care Initiative team aids in admissions by consulting to patients all over the Sunnybrook campus. Many patients who are eventually admitted to the PCU have been followed by the PCI previously, bridging the patient’s experiences and allowing excellent continuity of care. The PCI team is acutely aware of the need to move patients through the system appropriately; their close links with the PCU make such transitions smooth and easy.

“The Palliative Care Initiative provides patient care consultation for people who are either dying or people with cancer who have pain and other symptom issues,” says Dr. Nina Horvath, a PCI physician who is one of the key leaders in the collaboration.

The continued assistance of the PCI ensures the patient’s care remains the same, maintaining a comfort level for patients and their families.

The approach is multidisciplinary, with various levels of health-care professionals including social workers, physicians, nurses, and a chaplain. PCI also provides teaching to all levels of health-care professionals including nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and physicians.