Offering Palliative Care to the Most Vulnerable

Palliative care should be available to all, including people who are homeless, argue researchers at the University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM), and family physicians at William Osler Health System, Sunnybrook Health Science Centre and Inner City Health Associates.

In a recent policy paper titled “Palliative Care as a Public Health Issue: Understanding Disparities in Access to Palliative Care for the Homeless Population Living in Toronto, Based on a Policy Analysis”, Drs. Naheed Dosani, Blair Henry and Lise Huynh, among others, have analyzed the fundamental inequities this population experiences when facing imminent death. It proposes a set of recommendations to encourage policymakers to think carefully about access to palliative care for people who are homeless.

“People who are homeless do not expect this type of care or any kind of attention at all,” says Dr. Dosani. “Many don’t think that they deserve it. Even after you have shown some interaction—getting them a coffee or enjoying a game of chess—some don’t feel they deserve that affection or attention. I think that this sentiment stems from an accumulation of the marginalization they have experienced.”

Original study available here: