AHS EMS Palliative and End of Life Care

The assess, treat and refer program from Alberta Health Services, provides urgent care in patient's homes during palliative emergencies.  Emergency Medical Services (EMS) practitioners and your clinicians (this could be a physician, registered nurse, nurse practitioner, licensed practical nurse, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, or respiratory therapist providing care in your home) will work together to make sure all your emergency treatment matches with your overall care plan.  This may include the desire to remain in your home, rather than be transported to a hospital.

The program is for adults who are receiving palliative and end-of-life care and have a palliative emergency.  A palliative emergency may include:

  • pain that gets worse
  • breathing problems
  • delirium (confusion)
  • nausea or vomiting

Many palliative patients prefer to die in a non-hospital setting, but complex care issues have historically left EMS practitioners and clinicians with few options but to transport them to the hospital.  The assess, treat and refer program allows clinicians and EMS practitioners to keep patients at home, when appropriate.  This improves patient and family experiences, and reduces the impact on the emergency departments.

The program is accessed by your clinician, a family member, a friend and the patient itself.

EMS will work with you, your family, and your clinician to discuss your current wishes.  They will consult with your palliative physician or if not available, an on-call physician to determine the best treatment.  If possible, treatment will be administered in your home and your desire to remain at home will be supported.  Your clinician will ensure that your family doctor is aware of the event and will follow up with any required medication or supplies.  Ems will also provide transport to an emergency department if desired.

For more information visit www.myhealth.alberta.ca/palliativecare