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Dying at home

Can we take our loved-one home to die?

The ability to go home varies from patient to patient. It depends upon the individual’s medical condition and whether the appropriate support can be provided at home. The doctor responsible for the patient’s hospital care should be able to tell you if going home is a possibility. Read more about dying at home in our Personal Health Navigator blog Link will open in a new window.

What happens once a decision is made to die at home?

The doctor will inform other members of the team about your wishes and start the paperwork requesting home care.

  • The patient will be examined by members of the health-care team to determine what additional supports, or specialized equipment, will be needed at home;
  • A social worker will meet with your family to explain what to expect once the patient arrives home.

Will a doctor visit the patient at home?

It is essential that a doctor, or team of doctors, see the patient at home on a fairly regular basis in order to manage the medical care.

  • The family doctor may be able to perform this oversight role;
  • Palliative care physicians, who specialize in treating the pain and symptoms of dying patients, also make home visits. The availability of these doctors varies across the province. In some areas, nurse practitioners are involved in palliative care instead.

What type of home-care support can we expect to receive?

Help from nursing staff, personal support workers and certain equipment and medical supplies are provided through your local Community Care Access Centre (CCAC).

  • The medical team at the hospital will file a home-care application with CCAC on behalf of the patient;
  • Each CCAC in the province has its own policies and criteria for providing home care. This means the level of services available varies across Toronto and the province.

What other help is available?

Many hospices have dedicated volunteers who provide in-home assistance to dying patients and their families. A hospital social worker can provide you with a list of hospices in your area.

Who will be most responsible for looking after the patient at home?

Although you can count on some outside support from health-care and personal-support providers, family members will have the primary responsibility for looking after the day-to-day needs of the patient.

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Location and contact

Critical Care Medicine

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
2075 Bayview Avenue, 
D-wing, 1st floor
room D1 08
Toronto, ON M4N 3M5

Phone: 416-480-4522
Fax: 416-480-4999

For information about patients admitted to Sunnybrook's Intensive Care Units, please contact the unit through the hospital switchboard at 416-480-6100