Nova Scotia: Palliative Home Care Patients Eligible for Free Drug Coverage

Editor’s Note: On February 15th 2012 Nova Scotia’s Provincial Health and Wellness Department Issued the following Statement.  For more information please visit their website at: or contact them by telephone: 902-424-5818 (General Inquiries) or call call 902-424-5859 for more information on the palliative drug program. 
Patients receiving palliative care at home are eligible for full drug coverage at no cost with the launch of the new, expanded Palliative Home Care Drug Coverage Program today, Feb. 15.

The program, part of the province’s Better Care Sooner plan, aims to provide health-care programs tailored to the needs of Nova Scotians and gives them more choice about where they receive care.

Although this option was available in some parts of Nova Scotia, the Department of Health and Wellness will now fund palliative home care drug coverage in all areas of the province. This will alleviate some of the pressure on families who are trying to make the choice between hospitalization and staying at home.

“Many terminally-ill patients prefer to spend their last days at home, in familiar surroundings, cared for by family and friends.  This coverage will give patients and their loved ones a real choice about where and how they spend their remaining time together,” said Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald.

Patients will be eligible for coverage if they are:
— living in Nova Scotia and have a valid health card number
— diagnosed by a physician with a terminal illness
— accepted into a DHA/IWK Palliative Care Program
— assessed by the DHA/IWK Palliative Care Program team to be within six months of anticipated death
— living at home, defined as wherever the person is living, whether in their own home, with family or friends, or in a supportive living residence. This does not include a hospital setting or a palliative care unit.

The program covers drugs recommended for coverage in the Pan-Canadian Gold Standards in Palliative Home Care, a national standard.

Drugs will be dispensed at community pharmacies at no cost to the patient. Pharmacies will direct-bill the Department of Health and Wellness for expenses.

“The goal with this coverage is to make it easily accessible to Nova Scotians who need it most, and to reduce some of their health-care concerns during what can be a very difficult time in their lives,” Ms. MacDonald said.

Brenda Payne, president of the Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association, said the new program will improve home care for Nova Scotians.

“Eight out of 10 Nova Scotians say they want to die at home,” she said. “This coverage program ensures patients facing a life-threatening illness have the option to stay at home and receive the drugs they need for treatment.

“We’re pleased Nova Scotians will no longer have to decide where they want to be based on financial considerations. This is a very positive step.”

For more information on the Palliative Home Care Drug Program, call 902-424-5859.