Hospice Halifax Announces Eligibility Criteria and Admission Process for Hospice Residence

Tuesday February 12, 2019

Hospice Halifax and Nova Scotia Health Authority announced eligibility criteria and an admission process, as a new hospice residence for patients from Nova Scotia and their families opens on April 8.

The hospice will provide end-of-life care for people living with a terminal illness.

Representatives from NSHA, Hospice Halifax, Valley Hospice Foundation, and Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton County formed the Provincial Hospice Planning Working Group and developed the criteria. 

The Integrated Palliative Care Strategy, Department of Health and Wellness Policy Framework for the Establishment of Hospice as a Setting of Care in Nova Scotia, and NSHA Nova Scotia Community Residential Hospice Standards guided the group’s work.

“Today marks a good starting point for the future of hospice residence care in Nova Scotia,” said Stephanie Connidis, palliative care physician and medical director for Hospice Halifax. “The criteria help present a clearer picture: when staying at home is no longer possible, people can consider a new option for end-of-life care. We thank the working group members for their skill, knowledge, and careful thought in developing these criteria.”

The criteria outline the specific scope and limits of eligibility as well as situations that require more discussion with the hospice care team. In general, eligible patients must:

  • have a predicted life expectancy of three months or less
  • have a Palliative Performance Scale score of 50 per cent or less
  • be 16 years of age or older; younger patients will be considered on a case-by-case basis with the IWK Health Centre

Hospices offer safe, inclusive, and compassionate care aimed at relieving physical symptoms and enhancing comfort and quality of life for patients and their families. As a part of eligibility, patients or their substitute decision maker must have no further plans for diagnostic tests and confirm their understanding that resuscitation and other life-prolonging interventions are not provided in hospice. They must have explored all appropriate and available local supports but can no longer be supported at home, or have confirmed that a home death is not desirable.

Eligible patients’ care needs will be the primary factors in considering admission.

Admission decisions will also be guided by patients’ place of care. People living at home or who are precariously housed, whose care needs exceed what they can manage safely or comfortably with the resources available to them, will receive first priority. People accessing care in a hospital or other care institution will receive next priority

The timing of admission will be determined by the medical director and nurse manager through a collaborative triage process with care partners.

Hospice Halifax defined the process for admission. An applicant’s most responsible healthcare professional – for example, a family physician, nurse practitioner, specialist, or Palliative Care Consult Team member – can submit a request for assessment to the hospice starting on March 27. The nurse manager will review the request with the hospice medical team and, if it meets the eligibility criteria, conduct an in person assessment at the applicant’s place of care, if necessary. Eligible patients will be added to a triage list which will be reviewed regularly.

“NSHA has been working with Hospice Halifax and others to establish consistent criteria for hospice settings. Recognizing that this is a new setting of care in Nova Scotia, NSHA staff continue to work with community partners to ensure a collaborative approach to planning,” said Cheryl Tschupruk, Director of Palliative Care Integration at NSHA. “NSHA will be able to look to the experiences of Hospice Halifax this year to guide the ongoing development of policies and guidelines related to hospice care.”

For more information and a list of criteria, visit www.hospicehalifax.ca.