Frequently asked questions

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, contact us and we’ll be happy to help you.

Definition

What is palliative care?

Palliative care aims to improve quality of life for people facing a life-threatening illness. The palliative care approach affirms life and regards death as a natural part of life. It aims to relieve physical and psychological suffering and enhance the quality of life of terminally ill patients and their loved ones. The goal is to offer an end of life imbued with compassion, respect and humanity.

What is a palliative care home?

A palliative care home (hospice) is a facility that provides palliative care on an inpatient basis to terminally ill patients who are at the end of life. It offers care on a human scale, in a familiar and reassuring environment, ideally resembling a home. Patients entering a palliative care home typically have a life expectancy of three months or less.

What is a palliative care day centre?

A palliative care day centre is a facility that provides palliative care on an outpatient basis to people with a life-limiting illness who have ceased curative treatments. Day centres offer a complete range of physical, psychosocial, recreational, and personal care and services to guests in a warm and welcoming environment, while providing necessary respite to caregivers. By beginning to care for guests much earlier on and by accompanying them through their transition, palliative care day centres improve guests’ morale and quality of life. The concept has proven its value elsewhere in the world, and there are a few day centres in the province of Quebec, but none on the island of Montreal.

Admission

At what point can a patient be admitted to the home?

Patients are admitted when their physical state and medical needs are such that they can no longer remain at home and require more care than can be provided in that setting. These patients typically have a life expectancy of less than three months.

Who can be admitted to St. Raphael’s? How will patients be selected?

At the palliative care home, the 12 beds are registered with the health and social services network. When a patient needs to be placed in palliative care, their doctor is the one who undertakes the process of finding an available bed; if the patient wishes to be placed in a palliative care home, a bed is assigned, generally with a preference for the patient’s residential neighbourhood. Admission requests at St. Raphael’s are analyzed and prioritized based on the physical and psychosocial, safety and comfort (symptom management) needs of the patient.

At the day centre, any person may attend, subject to the centre’s capacity limit; however, priority may be given in accordance with the guest’s or the caregiver’s place of residence.

What are the criteria for a patient to be admitted to the home?
  • The patient and/or the primary caregiver must reside in Montreal
  • Must have a life expectancy of three months or less
  • Must be at least 18 years old and be registered with the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ)
  • Must have a documented, progressive, life-limiting and incurable illness
  • No longer be receiving any systemic treatment that requires monitoring
  • Be willing to accept care from St. Raphael’s team
  • Understands that St. Raphael’s does not provide medical aid in dying
What are the criteria for a guest to attend the day centre?
  • 18 years or older
  • Montreal resident
  • Diagnosed with an incurable illness
  • Living at home
If I make a donation, can I place a loved one who is terminally ill?

We are extremely grateful for any and all support we receive for St. Raphael’s. However, it is not possible to manage admissions to the home or day centre on the basis of donations we may receive.

Will a guess who regularly visits the day centre automatically be admitted to the home when the time comes?

Patients are admitted based on their physical, psychosocial, safety, and comfort (symptom management) needs. The fact that we will get to know day centre guests and the evolution of their state of health may allow us to assess their admissibility earlier than would otherwise be the case.

Cost and fundraising

Are the services offered for free?

Yes, all services at St. Raphael’s are offered free of charge.

Why does St. Raphael’s need to raise money for services that are offered for free by the health-care system? Doesn’t the Quebec Government pay for these services?

It is true that palliative care is included in the health services paid for by the government. However, there is a lack of palliative care beds in Montreal, so there’s a great need to add more. If we want to offer free palliative care services to the Montreal community, they must be financed mainly through private donations. The Quebec government does not finance the construction of private health care buildings, but it provides subsidies to fund a portion of the operating costs for palliative care beds, as well as tax credits for private donations. Overall, this model has proved less expensive for society than one where the government directly assumes one hundred percent of the costs.

Are palliative care homes part of the Quebec health care system?

Palliative care homes are independent non-profit organizations. They are governed by the Quebec Health Ministry, through accreditation and contractual agreements with the local CIUSSS (Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux). A portion of their operating costs is funded through government subsidies; however, most of their funding comes from donations.

How does St. Raphael’s finance its operating costs now that it’s open?

The Health Ministry finances part (approximately one third) of the operating costs for the 12 palliative care beds and the day centre. The remaining funds needed to operate the home and day centre come from private donations, through annual campaigns and other continuous/ongoing fundraising efforts.

Who are the donors?

For a complete list of our major donors, please visit this page. We are very grateful to have several large organizations and well-known philanthropists supporting our cause. We have successfully completed a $10 million major fundraising campaign to renovate St. Raphael’s. However, we will continue to need donations from our community members as well as from companies, financial institutions, private foundations and, of course, the friends of St. Raphael’s.

Services, access and duration

What territory does St. Raphael's serve?

St. Raphael’s covers Montreal and the surrounding geographical area, including Outremont, Mount Royal, Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (CDN-NDG), Ville-Marie, Plateau-Mont-Royal, Villeray-St-Michel-Parc-Extension, Montreal West, Hampstead, Côte Saint-Luc, and Westmount, where there are limited services dedicated to palliative care.

What type of services does St. Raphael's offer?

For the day centre:

  • Art therapy
  • Therapeutic bath/relaxation
  • Massage therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Psychosocial services
  • Patient support groups
  • Specialized volunteer activities, for example, writing workshops, pet therapy, music, hairdressing, beauty care, horticulture, yoga, meditation, knitting classes, crafts.

For the palliative care home:

  • Massage therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Psychosocial services
  • Therapeutic bath
  • Specialized volunteer activities, for example, spiritual care, writing workshops, pet therapy, music, hairdressing, beauty care, horticulture, yoga, meditation, knitting classes, crafts.
Can loved ones and caregivers stay with the patient at St. Raphael’s?

Yes, loved ones and caregivers are able to stay with the patient while at St. Raphael’s, for as long as they wish.

Does the day centre offer services only to patients, or to their loved ones and caregivers as well?

Day centre services are primarily intended for our guests with a life-limiting illness. However, some support services are also offered to loved ones and caregivers.

How can people access the day centre’s services and activities?

Day centre services and activities are accessible on a first-come, first-served basis. Please visit this page for the schedule of activities.

Are any religious rituals or services offered to patients at St. Raphael’s?

While St. Raphael’s is a non-denominational facility, great care is taken to respect patients’ wishes and preferences, including their desire to observe religious traditions or rituals of all kinds.

What is the average length of stay in the palliative care home?

Currently, the average length of stay for patients in palliative care homes is 14 days or so.

Will St. Raphael’s offer medical aid in dying?

St. Raphael’s does not offer medical aid in dying. We have made this choice in alignment with our mission and vocation, in full compliance with the law. We firmly believe in the importance and benefits of high-quality palliative care offered to terminally-ill patients at the end of their life in an appropriate environment with the goal of neither delaying nor hastening their death, but of ensuring that they can live their last days in comfort, serenity and dignity, surrounded by their loved ones.

We do all we can to ensure that people who apply for admission to St. Raphael’s home understand clearly that we offer palliative care, not medical aid in dying.

What happens if a patient asks for medical aid in dying?

It is very important for us to respect our patients’ and guests’ wishes and choices; that is part of our approach and our values. If a patient of the home were to change their mind and ask for medical aid in dying, we would immediately initiate the predetermined protocol to have the patient evaluated and, if the patient were considered eligible, to ensure transfer to obtain the procedure.

Other

How many palliative care homes are there in Quebec?

There are currently 35 independent palliative care homes in Quebec.

Why a day centre?

As soon as a palliative care approach is initiated, the patient can benefit from a number of services that will help them get through this difficult period, even when they are still living at home. The day centre will be a warm, family-oriented gathering place where patients can receive services, and also relax and find comfort, and it will offer loved ones and caregivers a beneficial break. While this concept has already proven its worth elsewhere, there are no palliative care day centres in Montreal at this time.

Is the Catholic Church involved in this project?

The Archdiocese of Montreal has generously transferred (through an emphyteutic lease) the use of the building and land for the home and day centre, which welcomes people from all walks of life, regardless of their social condition, ethnic origin, sexual orientation and gender identity, or religious beliefs.

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, contact us and we’ll be happy to help you.