The Palliative Outreach Resource Team (PORT) Launches in Victoria
September 19th was an exciting day for the city of Victoria as the Palliative Outreach Resource Team (PORT) officially launched its services. Community members and partners from the University of Victoria, Island Health, Victoria Cool Aid Society and Victoria Hospice gathered to celebrate the new program: the result of years of advocacy, research, and community mobilization. On this day of community celebration, respect was paid to the journey that led to the creation of this service.
In 2011, a group of inner city service providers came together to advocate for better access and quality of care at end-of-life for their clients. They approached Dr. Kelli Stajduhar and partnered on the Equitable Access to Care (EAC) study (2014-2017) which highlighted the lack of whole-person care for those experiencing structural vulnerability compounded by the effects of life-limiting and progressive chronic illness. Over the last few years, a community collaborative has formed known as the Equity in Palliative Approaches to Care (ePAC) to improve the quality of life for individuals facing health inequities using a palliative approach to care. A palliative approach to care attends to the physical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs of the person and family. Principles of a palliative approach include relief of suffering, quality of life, dignity and hope. The EAC study findings as presented in the “Too Little, Too Late” report and ePAC’s community collaborative generated PORT.
PORT provides health care services and acts as a bridge between people with serious illnesses and their caregivers, palliative care, and other health and social support systems at the end-of-life. PORT serves individuals who have been unable to access services as a result of precarious housing, racism, isolation, homelessness, poverty, and stigma. In Canada, a place where healthcare is mandated to be accessible, universal and portable, PORT addresses needs that have gone unmet for this segment of Victoria’s community. The PORT team operates out of the Cool Aid Community Health Centre but meets people where they are at, whether it be in supportive housing, on the streets, in their car or tent. So far, these services are being delivered to 23 individuals by a Registered Nurse, Katie Leah and a Palliative Care Physician, Fraser Black. Funding has been secured for the first year from Island Health and Saint Elizabeth Health Community Enterprise.
Thank you for your joint support and shared celebration in this exciting time for the community. Stay tuned Victoria: this is just the beginning from us and we want you to stay involved and in support of this valuable service!
By Sydney Hofmeyr & Rowen Harris
NURS456 Practicum Students, ePAC