Palliative Care Learning Cycle

Issue and Context

Palliative care is a specialty that aims to improve the quality of life of patients experiencing life-limiting illness through prevention strategies, symptom mitigation, and pain control. These services often extend to a patient’s support unit, including palliative care units, hospice, pain and symptom clinics, home care, and bereavement services. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth many challenges to both primary and palliative care practices that could impact the quality of care received by patients.

The ISU sought to engage with stakeholders to understand how the pandemic has impacted the care of adults with palliative care needs in British Columbia (BC) and how community primary care and palliative care services could be enhanced to better support patients.


  1. A rapid review of palliative care policy documents across Canada, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Australia, as well as two international academic literature searches focused on access to palliative care services, and primary and community palliative care related to COVID-19.
  2. Semi-structured interviews with stakeholders representing primary care, palliative care and patients across BC to understand the impact of the pandemic.
  3. A constructive workshop with primary and palliative care providers using the ISU’s Team Mapping Method to explore how team-based primary and palliative care approaches could be improved to support patients and families with palliative care needs.


Findings from the rapid review, interviews and workshop were synthesized to inform the following recommendations:


  • Improve equitable access to telehealth
  • Improve consistent information sharing


  • After-hours care provision
  • Establish a patient/family navigator role


  • Enhance collaboration through integrated, cross-team rapid rounds


  • Increase patient and family knowledge, particularly for end-of-life at home

The project report with full details of the findings and recommendations is available here.

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