Palliative care consists of active, evolutive care for patients with an established, progressive disease and a guarded prognosis. The objective of such care is to provide the best possible quality of life for the patient and their family. By considering the patient as a whole, palliative care is aimed not only at preventing and alleviating physical symptoms, but also at meeting spiritual, social and psychological needs.
In Québec, palliative care can be provided in the patient's home, in residential and long-term care facilities, in hospitals and in palliative care hospices. In some countries, including Canada, day centre services are sometimes provided to supplement in-home palliative care.
To be better informed to make the decision whether to institute palliative care day centres (PCDCs) in Québec within the health and social services network, the Direction générale des services de santé et médecine universitaire of the ministère de Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) turned to the expertise of the Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS).
Although some evidence suggests that attending a PCDC may be beneficial for patients, the data do not enable determination of: (1) the contribution of PCDCs to management of symptoms or to improvement in patients' quality of life; (2) the contribution of PCDCs to efficient resource utilization in the HSSS; and (3) the risks associated with attending a PCDC. In light of these findings, INESSS concludes that the deployment of PCDCs in the health and social services network is not indicated at this time.