Developing a Decision-Support Framework for Locating Regional Palliative Care Hubs in Rural and Remote Canada

Canada’s aging population is on the rise, resulting in greater demand for palliative care services (PCS). However, service delivery is unable to meet demand, particularly in rural and remote areas due to the absence of existing infrastructure, qualified medical practitioners, funding, and user volume. In addition, many of these services have been developed in urban centres, resulting in a centralization of palliative care services and facilities.

One solution to address the need to provide PCS to residents of rural and remote areas is to relocate care recipients to service-rich urban centres. However, research has documented that most Canadians prefer to spend their last days at home. The development of regional palliative care hubs is an innovative solution for delivering PCS to residents within these rural and remote communities.

Using a mixed-method study design that combines geographic information science (GIS) and spatial analysis with qualitative methods, Dr. Nadine Schuurman will determine which rural and remote BC communities are potential candidates for regional palliative care hubs, and what potential barriers exist for accessing these services — both by patients and by providers. Her research will also include the development of a GIS-based decision support tool for determining the most suitable communities for serving regional centers, and identifying the types of patients and providers most likely to benefit from having a hub in these locations.

Dr. Schuurman’s goal is to provide insight into how to provide palliative care to an aging population in rural and remote Canada and to help inform policy and program decision-making related to the allocation of health care resources.