Palliative care competency framework

Background information about the palliative care competency framework

One measure of a society’s commitment to its most vulnerable citizens is how the society helps people through the difficult consequences of life-limiting illnesses. High-quality palliative care provides the physical, psychosocial, and spiritual support people and their families or caregivers need as they navigate some of the most challenging events of their lives. Palliative care helps people live more fully, and more comfortably – even through the stages of advanced disease.

Canadians want and need high-quality palliative care

At present, our health system does not have sufficient numbers of people with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes required to provide people and their families or caregivers with palliative care whenever and wherever they need it.
In 2017, Bill C-277 called for better access to palliative and end-of-life services in community and home settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities and residential hospices. It also called on the federal government to work with the provinces and territories, as well as palliative care experts, to develop a structure that will guide and support the implementation of high-quality palliative care services.

In response to the legislation, and after extensive consultation with provinces and territories, experts, and stakeholders (including people with lived experience) across Canada, Health Canada developed the Framework on Palliative Care in Canada and the Action Plan on Palliative Care. The latter calls for the development of a pan-Canadian, interdisciplinary palliative care competency framework that documents essential skills, knowledge, and abilities for healthcare workers.

Building on a foundation of provincial research

The Canadian Interdisciplinary Palliative Care Competency Framework leverages the work that Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec have done to establish their own palliative care competency frameworks. These provincial and discipline-specific frameworks have been synthesized and assembled into a comprehensive set of interdisciplinary competencies common to all provinces and territories across five disciplines – nursing, medicine, social work, personal support work, and volunteering – both for those who specialize in palliative care, and for those who wish to integrate its principles into another discipline. Educators and administrators using this document may need to make adaptations if roles and responsibilities are different within their province or territory.