About Us

The Canadian Virtual Hospice provides support and personalized information about advanced illness, palliative care, loss and grief, to people living with illness, family members, people working in healthcare, educators, and researchers. The Canadian Virtual Hospice is a division of the International Centre for Dignity and Palliative Care Inc., a registered charity.

Our Story 

In 2001, a group of palliative care leaders from across Canada gathered to consider whether a web-based platform could address some of the national gaps in palliative care. They recognized that Canadians need a reputable source for finding information and support, whenever they need it, wherever they live.
They envisioned the creation of a “virtual hospice.” A safe place where:
  • People without ready access to palliative care specialists can ask questions of a clinical team specialized in palliative care and grief.
  • People living with illness, families, and others in their care network can find text and multimedia content about managing symptoms and other caregiving topics, accessing financial benefits, navigating the healthcare system, and communicating with their local healthcare providers.
  • Healthcare providers can easily access evidence-informed, leading tools to better care for and communicate with people living with illness and families.
  • Educators can access content to supplement lectures and develop assignments for students. 
  • Researchers can share their latest findings, enabling healthcare providers to stay on top of important developments.
These experts found an enthusiastic supporter in Senator Sharon Carstairs. Her invaluable assistance coupled with financial investments by founding partners allowed the dream of www.virtualhospice.ca to become a reality.
The Canadian Virtual Hospice went online in February 2004 with evidence-informed content, and a pioneering e-health feature called Ask a Professional. For the first time, Canadians had direct access to health specialists online. Since then, Canadians have found a safe place to sort through issues related to living with advanced illness, dying and grief at www.virtualhospice.ca. The information and support help people make sense in times of confusion, offer compassion in isolation and reassure anxiety.

Evolution of www.virtualhospice.ca

Each year, visits to Virtual Hospice continue to climb – from 34,000 in 2004 to 2.3 million in 2020. By the end of 2020, more than 3,000 questions had been answered by our Ask a Professional Team, which now includes specially trained palliative care physicians, nurses, social workers, spiritual care advisers, a pharmacist, pediatric specialists, grief specialists and an Indigenous Elder.
Virtual Hospice has expanded its content to meet identified needs and national gaps. Our development model goes beyond co-design, bringing together diverse pan Canadian teams with international experts' engagement. People living with illness and families are at the heart of the new resources we develop. They work collaboratively with scholars, researchers, and healthcare providers to envision and develop innovative responses to unmet needs grounded in lived experience. With support from funders, Virtualhospice.ca has added new resources and web platforms to fill national gaps in information and support:
Caregiving Video Series  – Demonstrates common caregiving tasks to support the provision of safe care.
LivingMyCulture.ca  – Shares conversations with people from 11 cultures, speaking 11 languages, about the intersection of culture and living with advanced illness, caregiving expectations for care and grief. 
LivingOutLoud.life and VivreAFond.ca – Provides a platform for adolescents and young adults living with advanced illness to learn from others and access content tailored to meet their unique needs.
MyGrief.ca and Mondeuil.ca – Offers interactive learning modules to assist people in understanding and moving through their grief. 
KidsGrief.ca and DeuildesEnfants.ca – Guides discussions by parents, guardians, and educators with children and teens about advanced illness, dying, death, and grief. And it provides support through online learning modules when dying and grief become part of their lives. Available at no charge. Certificate of completion provided.  
MyGriefToolbox – Supports paramedics to provide grief support to patients and families with palliative care needs in their homes through online learning modules. Available at no charge. Certificate of completion provided.  
Methadone4Pain.ca – Presents competencies for prescribing Methadone for analgesia in palliative care and managing patients prescribed methadone for learners, including physicians, Nurse Practitioners, nurses, and pharmacists through online learning modules. Available at no charge. Certificate of completion provided.

Looking Ahead

We are committed to continually improving www.virtualhospice.ca to better meet the needs of all Canadians. More resources are launching in 2021 to address the needs of underserved populations and fill national gaps. 

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