Covenant Health

What is the Palliative Institute?

Why do we need the Institute?

Compassionate, effective and timely palliative and end-of-life care is fundamentally important for quality health care delivery. Reflecting on an aging population, the number of Canadians dying each year will increase so that by 2026 there will be 40 percent more people dying per year then there are today. Each death in turn will, as it does now, affect the well-being of five family members and loved ones. An estimated 30% of people currently have access to palliative care services. As well, a 2016 survey* showed that 58% of Canadians do not know what palliative care is. Increasing awareness and access to palliative care is needed.

*Ipsos Survey of Canadians, August 2016

History of palliative care at Covenant Health

Palliative care is a part of our heritage and a priority for Covenant Health. It goes back to the Sisters of Charity (Grey Nuns) of Montreal who came to Alberta in 1863 with a calling to dedicate their lives to caring for the sick and vulnerable. 

It was the Grey Nuns who recognized the need for palliative care and established the first hospital-based program at the Edmonton General in 1985. The program grew out of an identified need for more holistic, trans-disciplinary approaches, and a better understanding of the complex and evolving nature of pain.

In 1988, Covenant Health’s Tertiary Palliative Care Unit at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital was established and it became known as a world-class, multi-disciplinary program that attracts practitioners, students and researchers from around the world.

The Grey Nuns were also instrumental in the creation of the a regional palliative care program in 1995 (now known as the Edmonton Zone Palliative Care Program) and the Annual Palliative Care Education & Research Days conference now hosted by the Institute.

In October 2012, Covenant Health launched the Palliative Institute to meet one of its strategic objectives: “We will be leaders in robust palliative and end-of-life care and advocate for it as an essential part of the health care system.”

Palliative Institute mission & purpose

Mission: The Palliative Institute is committed to alleviating suffering for patients and their families by supporting excellence in palliative and end-of-life care.

The Institute focuses on palliative care from a terminal diagnosis to end-of-life needs through:

  • Research: developing knowledge through research.
  • Education: promoting palliative and end-of-life care learning and education.
  • Clinical support: influencing clinical practices based on leading practice and utilizing knowledge obtained through research to improve the quality and comprehensiveness of palliative and end-of-life services.
  • Policy: influencing the development of public policies that will improve the quality of palliative care through research on best practices and education, and writing policies for Covenant Health specific to patients in palliative care and at the end of life.
  • Community engagement: developing and strengthening partnerships and engaging related communities in support of palliative and end-of-life care.

Collaboration & support