Northeastern Ontario's seven hospice volunteer visiting programs are leading an effort to develop performance indicators that would help improve the care they provide for patients and their families.
The seven organizations participating in the pilot over the coming year are: Near North Palliative Care Network (Nipissing), Maison Vale Hospice (Sudbury/Manitoulin), Horizon Palliative Care (Cochrane), VON (Algoma and Espanola), Hospice West Parry Sound, Elliot Lake Palliative Care Program and Timiskaming Hospice Palliative Care.
The programs enlist volunteers who visit palliative patients in their homes and help provide them with end-of-life care.
But they do not currently have identical measures in place to determine how well they are delivering that care.
“We want to make sure all these groups are measuring the same thing,” said Léo Therrien, the executive director of Maison Vale Hospice, which in addition to its visiting program, also operates a residential hospice in Sudbury.
The seven organizations are working with Brian Tramontini, a consultant with Sudbury-based Stratim, who specializes in health-care performance.
Tramontini said palliative care organizations often don't measure the same things when determining how well they deliver their services.
“Even if they do choose the same things, the definitions they use are almost always different,” he said. “They tend to choose things that are overly simplistic.”
Tramontini said not all data is created equal, and measuring certain things might not be helpful in the long run.
“Just because you can count something doesn't mean it's a good measure,” he said.
Tramontini said that falls are a common problem in long-term care homes, but just measuring the number of falls in a given period of time won't provide helpful data.
One month may have had more residents than another, skewing the results.
Counting the falls per resident day would be a much more valuable metric, he said.
Tramontini said he will meet with key players throughout the summer, and added the seven palliative care providers will meet in the fall to determine what they will measure and how.
The indicators will capture the value of volunteers' contribution to supporting patients and their families. Once developed, Hospice Palliative Care Ontario will roll the indicators out to all visiting programs across the province.