Your physician has just told you that you or your loved one has a limited time left in their life. The air feels as if it has been sucked out of the room and you have a hard time taking a breath. Your life has just been turned upside down and is now spiraling into a tailspin.
Where has the time gone? What time is there left to do all the things you had planned on doing?
What will you need in the future of your journey? Will you need home oxygen? Maybe help having a shower or someone to trim your toenails? How will you get the medications needed to manage your disease symptoms if you can’t drive to the pharmacy?
As we all approach the end to our lives, the fear of the unknown naturally gives way to acceptance. This is the cycle of life, after all. However, one fear that is often not well addressed is the cost of dying. Private home care, mobility aids, and medications are just some of the expenses that can occur before we pass away and unfortunately may have to leave to our grieving loved ones.
In British Columbia, BC Palliative Care Benefits are available to all B.C. residents of any age who have reached the end stage of a life-threatening disease or illness and who wish to receive palliative care at home.
This can be in your own home, with family or friends, in a supportive/assisted living residence, or in a hospice unit at a residential care facility (e.g., a community hospice bed that is not covered under PharmaCare’s Residential Care Plan (Plan B)).
Federal Coverage and Assistance
There are federal EI caregiver leave benefits that you can access if you need to take time off work to care for someone who is dying.
EI Caregiver benefits and leave - Canada.ca
Provincial Coverage and Assistance
Eligible patients receive coverage of medications used in palliative care through the PharmaCare BC Palliative Care Drug Plan (Plan P)
Northern BC Health Authority Resources
Coverage of medical supplies and equipment used in palliative care through the local health authority.
Northern Health Palliative & End of Life care for Health Professionals
If there is a local Hospice Society in your area or health care region, contact them for information and possible help with medical equipment needs. The Red Cross Loan Cupboard in your area is also a great resource for items, such as commodes or wheelchairs.
The provincial and federal palliative care benefits must have your physician’s approval and are subject to review on a month-by-month basis. Don’t be afraid to ask for these benefits. They are your right to receive as a Canadian.
Review the paperwork with your physician. Some physicians and healthcare professionals are new to British Columbia and are unfamiliar with the paperwork needed to help you in your journey. Together, you and your healthcare team can determine what YOU need to get through the dying process of yourself or your loved one.
Also, don’t be afraid to learn together about what can help both you, your healthcare team, and possibly future patients to have a comfortable passing from this life into whatever is beyond today.
Asking for help is one of the bravest things you can do. Dying is like life. We need all the help we can get to get through it and there is plenty of help out there if we just know where to look and who to ask.
If you know of any resources or have some helpful hints in how to get through the difficult journey of living with a terminal illness, please add them to the comments below. Every experience is valuable in helping all of us get better palliative care.