Program Description:

The Family Medicine / Palliative Care Program at London Health Sciences Centre offers a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to provide quality, holistic care to patients and their families across the life continuum. Family Physicians provide primary care in the community as well as admit and care for their patients within the hospital setting.

Palliative care specialists provide inpatient care as attending physicians or consultants to patients admitted under other services as well as follow up community care. The program has components at University and Victoria Hospital sites and at two off-site Family Medical Centres.

There is a strong interdisciplinary approach with a focus to optimize patient abilities and return the patient to the community setting. Care includes activation of patients to optimize function prior to transfer to LTC homes, reactivation of patients to return to their homes, pain and symptom management of terminally ill patients to maximize comfort and supportive end of life care.

Average length of stay is two to six weeks depending upon discharge disposition. With the backlog of transfers to LTC homes, length of stay can be prolonged.

General Information:

Victoria Hospital (Level 6)

  • Total number of beds: 24

Family Medicine (Level 6)

(10 beds)

  • Family Physicians admit / care for own patients and some accept “orphan” patients
  • Continuity of care from community to hospital and back to community
  • MDs maintain full time office practices

Palliative Care (Level 6)
(14 beds)

  • Palliative Care specialist physicians provide care to patients on the unit and in the community
  • Family Physicians can admit and care for their own patients as well

VH Team Composition: 50 - RN / RPN / NPCNS/ PT/ OT/ OTA PTA/ SW / Unit Clerks (rotate between units)3

Nurse to patient ratio: 4 Nurses caring for 14 patients on Days and 2 Nurses caring for 14 patients on nights.

University Hospital (Level 6)

  • Total number of beds: 12 beds
  • Team Composition: RN, NP/ CNS, PT, OT, PT/OT Assistant, SW, Communications Clerks
  • Nurse to patient ratio: 5:1 0730-2330 7/8:1 2330-0730

Palliative Care Consult Team

  • Nurse Practitioner/CNS – 1.5 at UH and 1 at VH
  • 1 part-time Palliative Care specialist physician at UH, inpatient specialist at VH covers consult team for VH
  • One number to call for referrals

Scheduling Information:

  • Victoria Hospital:
    • 12 hour rotating shifts (0700-1900 and 1900-0700)
  • University Hospital:
    • 12 hour rotating shifts (0730-1930 and 1930-0730) and 8 hour shifts (0730-1530 and 1530-2330)

Background Essentials:

  • Previous experience in general medicine, family medicine, palliative care, oncology or gerontology nursing (one year).
  • Able to practice effectively in a collaborative interdisciplinary team setting
  • Enhanced communication and interpersonal skills
  • Able to function autonomously and to adapt to changing unpredictable situations and varying workload

Professional Assets:

Beneficial but not essential:

  • Completion of Fundamentals course (previously Palliative Care Level I)
  • Completion of CAPCE (Comprehensive Advanced Palliative Care Education) (previously Palliative Care Level II)
  • Certification in Hospice Palliative Care or Gerontology (CNA)
  • Palliative, Oncology or Gerontology certificates or University courses (i.e.thanatology)

Professional Development:

Orientation and Education

  • A comprehensive orientation is provided to all new staff. The length and content is customized to meet individual needs and is dependent upon the area of hire.
  • Professional development and continuous learning is encouraged and supported through a variety of educational opportunities

Student Consolidation:

  • Victoria Hospital is able to offer student consolidation for BScN and RPN students.
  • University Hospital is able to offer student consolidation for BScN students.
  • Both are able to provide excellent opportunities for consolidating students or 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students to build communication skills, examination and assessment skills and skills related to end of life care.
  • Strong interdisciplinary teams within the Family Medicine / Palliative Care Program offer nursing staff an opportunity to work in a collegial environment with a strong holistic approach to care delivery.

Program Links:

  • The library at LHSC subscribes to several palliative care journals (Palliative Medicine, Journal of Pain and Symptom management).
  • Associations: Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association ( and the International Association of Hospice Palliative Care (
  • The unit website is on the LHSC Intranet under Medicine CBU.
  • Certification is at