Coronavirus public health restrictions shouldn’t mean dying alone

The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association is calling on health authorities to “implement a more compassionate approach to end-of-life visitations … during the COVID-19 pandemic.” (Shutterstock)

Barbara Pesut, University of British Columbia

One of the most heartbreaking aspects of the COVID-19 physical distancing has been accounts of people dying alone in hospital or in long-term care facilities.

These incidents have not only devastated family members but also disturbed many people with the sense that something has gone wrong with how our society cares for aging or vulnerable people and responds to illness and and dying.

On May 19, the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) launched a campaign called “Saying Goodbye” that calls on health authorities to “implement a more compassionate approach to end-of-life visitations across Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The CHPCA says that “while certain provinces have taken steps to relax visitation protocols for end-of-life situations, many hospitals and long-term care homes still do not allow family access, even with personal protective equipment (PPE).”