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Dr. Hal Siden with Heston, one of the children who receives care at Canuck Place. Children and hospice are two words that shouldn’t go together. But sadly they do, and that’s why Canuck Place exists. Caring for children and their families will always be at the heart of the mission of Canuck Place. With donor support, for over 25 years, Canuck Place has been providing world-class PPC that is sustainable, innovative and anticipates the needs of their current and future families.SUPPLIED

Research and clinician training benefits children across Canada and globally

In the last six years, Canuck Place Children’s Hospice has seen a 34 per cent increase in the number of children and families requiring pediatric palliative care (PPC) and a 94 per cent increase in outpatient care, says Dr. Hal Siden, medical director of British Columbia and Yukon’s PPC provider for children with life-threatening illnesses.

Pediatric care in B.C. and Yukon is uniquely centralized, a strategy that enabled the organization to develop a globally recognized, integrated model that gives families choices where they would like to receive care – at home, in hospice or in hospital.

“But we can’t make these choices available to families unless we continue to receive donor support,” says Dr. Siden, noting that to care for the increasing number of patients on the program and a rising complexity of care, it is crucial to continue research and train more clinicians to deliver PPC.

Canuck Place is currently caring for infants and children suffering from one or more of 190 different diseases and conditions. “Some of these children are living longer due to advancement in medicine, so there are more children who need our care,” says Dr. Siden. “One day we may solve rare pediatric diseases, but for now, these children need complex care, and their families need support that is not available unless Canuck Place is here.”

Children spend an average of seven years on the Canuck Place program, and research has a direct impact on outcomes, says Dr. Siden, adding the physician, nursing and counselling teams are committed to research, information sharing and training that will advance PPC and improve quality of life and complex care management for vulnerable children.

The results of ongoing research benefits children and their families across Canada and globally. Canuck Place clinicians developed a Pediatric Serious Illness Conversation Guide to use with parents of children with serious illness, while the organization’s staff has also collaborated with other specialized programs in the country to develop national PPC nursing competencies that can be applied in any setting where children with life-threatening conditions and their families receive care.

Canuck Place has always been adept at providing virtual care to families by phone and outreach to clinicians across the province by video. That experience was especially valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic as the hospice continued to provide 24-hour support for parents with an ill child and increased virtual counselling care for families needing grief and bereavement counselling during the pandemic.

While Canuck Place teaches senior pediatrics residents, pediatric oncology fellows and adult palliative medicine trainees, knowledge and experience is also shared internationally. In 2019, two clinicians travelled to Hyderabad, India, to support the work of Two Worlds Cancer, and in the same year, Dr. Siden conducted Grand Rounds – the presentation of a patient’s condition and its treatment to medical professionals – in Costa Rica.

Undaunted by the impact of the pandemic, in May 2020, Canuck Place hosted a virtual international conference with leading PPC clinicians from around the world, and three of the hospice’s leading clinicians provided online training through six Zoom sessions to the Nepalese Association of Palliative Care.

“All of these are examples of global knowledge sharing during the pandemic and will continue post-COVID as they are effective means of sharing research so that children all over the world have access to best practices in PPC,” says Dr. Siden.

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Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications with The Association of Fundraising Professionals Canada. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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