CMHA Durham program earns Transformative Change Award for leadership in palliative care to homeless individuals


 A Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Durham Branch program has been recognized by a group of Ontario’s leading community-based health care organizations for its leadership in providing palliative care for homeless individuals with a terminal illness. 

CMHA Durham’s CANDID program (Choice ANd Dignity in Death) received a Transformative Change Award from the Alliance for Healthier Communities in a video awards presentation Tuesday evening. The Alliance honours select organizations with these awards annually “for working at the forefront of transformative change to achieve the best possible health and well-being for everyone living in Ontario.”

Led by CMHA Durham with support from several community partners since 2017, the CANDID program supports individuals who are homeless or precariously-housed, experiencing mental health and/or addictions issues, and have a life-limiting diagnosis by providing accessible, equitable, needs-based, integrated palliative care. 

With this 2020 Transformative Change Award, we recognize and celebrate CANDID’s dedication as health champions, working on the forefront of transformative change and achieving the best possible health and quality of care for individuals in need,” said Alliance for Healthier Communities board chair Liben Gebremikael. “The program’s continued efforts provide individuals with compassionate and quality end-of-life care, and offers the respect and dignity all people deserve in their final days of life.” 

CANDID uses a team-based approach across sectors including primary care, psychiatry, home and community care, a pharmacy team, Lakeridge Hospital, Durham Palliative Care Community Team and Emergency Medical Services to provide individuals with holistic, wraparound care.

CANDID focuses on bringing services to individuals where they are, which includes going to shelters and drop-in centres to participate in therapeutic relationship development and increase connections to community programs in a different way.   

The program has provided compassion and quality care in both life and death by incorporating early diagnosis, chronic disease management, access to expert pain and symptom management, support for advance care planning, mental health and addictions supports, and co-ordination of end-of-life care. 

“This award from the Alliance for Healthier Communities is not only an honour for our branch, but a clear indication that our CANDID program is making a real difference in our community,” said CMHA Durham CEO Linda Gallacher. “We thank our peers in the health care system for recognizing the value of this program, and appreciate that all the people who make our CANDID program happen each day are now getting the kudos they so deserve.”

You can watch the Alliances award video here