Some Frequently Asked Questions

What is palliative care? Is palliative care only for cancer patients?

The World Health Organization defines palliative care as “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.

Cancer diagnoses represent approximately 76% of the West Island Palliative Care Residence admissions. Non-cancer diagnoses represent 24% of all admissions, which includes ALS, renal disease, dementia, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease and other non-cancerous diagnoses.

To learn more about palliative care, visit Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association and Canadian Virtual Hospice.

What is the West Island Palliative Care Residence?

The West Island Palliative Care Residence is an independent, community-based, non-profit institution, accredited by the Quebec government to provide palliative care services to residents of of Montreal. The Residence allows terminally ill patients to live their final days in comfort and with dignity in a warm, home-like environment, close to their family, and in their community. The Residence has 23 beds in two locations (Pavillon André-Brunet and Pavillon Stillview), making it the largest freestanding palliative care residence in Canada. Services are provided without charge.

Who can refer a patient to the West Island Palliative Care Residence?

Our admission process has been designed to transfer the burden away from the patients and their families, into the hands of the patient’s treating healthcare team.

As a first step, the patient, family member, or primary caregiver must make a verbal request to the patient’s treating healthcare team (usually a nurse, social worker or physician). Letting someone know that you are considering a transfer to the West Island Palliative Care Residence is your only responsibility. Everything else will be taken over by the patient’s treating healthcare team.

Who pays for the patient care at the West Island Palliative Care Residence?

The West Island Palliative Care Residence receives one-third of its operational budget from the Quebec government and relies on community support and fundraising activities to raise the balance of more than 3.5 million dollars.

In order to provide our first-class services at no cost to the patients and their families, we need your support. To find out how you can support us, please visit HOW YOU CAN HELP

Can I come visit a loved one at the Residence?

Family members, friends and pets are welcome to visit their loved ones between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. All visitors must enter and exit by our front door and must, for safety reasons, sign in and out our logbook. Should a family member or a friend wish to stay overnight in the patient’s room, please advise the nurse.

I would like to become a volunteer. How can I apply?

The Residence is always looking for men and women with a heart of gold and a smile that can light up a room. We want to make sure that you will enjoy your volunteering experience at the Residence. Therefore, we will meet with you and find the right position that suits your personality and meets our needs. If you would like to be part of this exceptional group of people, fill out the application form, and we will contact you shortly. If you have any questions, please call 514 693-1718, ext. 225

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How does the West Island Palliative Care Residence support the families and friends of our patients?

Our goal is to provide multi-faceted care to patients and their families throughout their journey through palliative care—all in our homelike environment. Our experienced and specialized staff provide the best possible symptom and pain control for patients while social workers and other counsellors are available for patients and families. Our new Art Therapy Program introduced in 2013 by a professional art therapist, a graduate with a Masters of Creative Therapy of Concordia University, has proven valuable for patients and families. Families are also offered bereavement services for a year following their family member’s death. Our callers, who are specialized volunteers trained in bereavement, provide support by listening and reinforcing that we are there for them during this difficult mourning period.

I want to make a gift in memory of a loved one. What should I do?

If you want to honour someone special by making a donation in their memory to the West Island Palliative Care Residence, please visit HOW YOU CAN HELP

Unless advised otherwise, a card on your behalf will be sent to the family acknowledging your gift.

How the Residence is funded?

The West Island Palliative Care Residence Foundation is a non-profit organization, duly registered (charity number 862444908RR0001).

The West Island Palliative Care Residence Foundation Board’s responsibility is to ensure financial security, such that day to day operations are guaranteed and that future funding is assured.

In order to provide our first-class services at no cost to the patients and their families, we need your support. To find out how you can support the Foundation, please visit HOW YOU CAN HELP

The Quebec Government passed a new law on June 5, 2014 allowing euthanasia. What is your position on it?

Palliative care does not hasten death – as do euthanasia and assisted suicide – but ensures it is as comfortable, dignified and pain-free as possible. The West Island Palliative Care Residence will continue to act in the way it always has – to provide the best possible care and comfort, including symptom relief to the dying but without taking any actions that hasten the natural process of death. In our opinion, the goal of good palliative care is never to hasten the end of life. We make the last days of life as comfortable and pain-free as possible so patients can live them in the best possible manner.

At the time the new law came into effect in Quebec, the Residence issued an official statement explaining its decision.

Read the full statement.