Hospice Standards

“No ship gets to their destiny without the guidance of map, captain and compass. We cannot measure the great work we are doing without reliable standards to tell us how well we are doing, and what we can do differently or better.”

Monica do Coutto Monni
Near North Palliative Care Network

Hospice standards set the minimum required expectations that differentiate the operations, work and philosophy of hospice-based services from other health and/or community support services. They promote quality and consistency in hospices across the province.

The HPCO Hospice Standards Framework:

  • Has been developed specifically for Ontario hospices.
  • Can be purchased by organizations that hold membership or associate status with HPCO.
  • Acts as a guide to existing hospice services as well as organizations that are considering developing such services.
  • Forms the basis of HPCO’s Accreditation Program.

HPCO Hospice Standards have been developed and revised in consultation with member hospices and, wherever possible, they are based on evidence from the literature. Every attempt is made to ensure that these Standards also align with governing legislation, national models of care such as the CHPCA Norms of Practice and other provincial documents such as the HQO Quality Standard for Palliative Care.

The modules within the framework include Organizational Oversight, Volunteer Management, Hospice Services, and a Glossary and Resource List. Each Hospice Service Standard addresses, at minimum:

  • Definition of the hospice service
  • Model of Care
  • Access
  • Assessment
  • Decision Making / Capacity
  • Care Planning
  • Care Delivery

For more information, or to request a copy of the current HPCO Hospice Standards document, please contact Selina Abetkoff, Standards & Accreditation Coordinator at 416.304.1477 x236 or by email through our Contact Us Form.

Please click here for Hospice Standards Pricing effective September 1, 2020


HPCO Hospice Standards Framework

Historical Context

1981 Palliative Care Foundation forms, later becomes the Ontario Palliative Care Association (OPCA) – Merged with HAO in 2011 to form HPCO

1989 Hospice Association of Ontario (HAO) incorporates
– Merged with OPCA in 2011 to form HPCO

1991  Publication of Canada’s first curriculum for visiting hospice volunteer training

1999 Publication of client service standards for Volunteer Hospice Services with the expectation that member agencies would strive to meet the minimum standards and criteria

2001 Development of indicators and targets allowing member agencies to monitor performance in comparison to the standards and to engage in a quality improvement process.

2003 Launch of Canada’s first accreditation model for Visiting Hospice Services in response to demands from hospices across Ontario

2005 Publication of Canada’s first standards for Residential Hospices

2006 HAO initiates process to support province-wide engagement with accreditation (Toolkit, Workshops, etc.).

2011 Hospice Association of Ontario (HAO) merges with the Ontario Palliative Care Association (OPCA) to form HPCO

2012 Publication of updated standards for Residential Hospices

2014 Publication of updated standards for Visiting Hospice Services

2015 Launch of revised accreditation model for Visiting Hospice Services

2016 Expansion of accreditation model to include the 2012 Community Residential Hospice Standards

2017 Development of Standards for Day Hospice, Grief and Bereavement Support, and Spiritual Care. Review / update of 2012 Residential Hospice Standards

2018 Review / update of Standards for Complementary Therapy and Volunteer Management

2019 Review / update of Standards for Organizational Oversight and In-Home (Visiting) Hospice

Definition of Hospice (Ontario)

A hospice is a community-based organization (or a program offered by a multi-service organization) that provides support to individuals living with a progressive, life-limiting illness and their caregivers, family members, and friends.

Support is provided at no cost to the service recipient in a variety of settings – including where the individual lives or in a homelike setting.

The goal of hospice care is to enhance the quality of life of the individual and the well-being of anyone that is impacted by the person’s illness or death. Volunteers (both direct service and indirect service) and staff play an integral role in achieving that goal.

A hospice provides one or more services such as:

  • In-Home (Visiting) Hospice Volunteers
  • Hospice Residence
  • Day Hospice
  • Grief and Bereavement Support
  • Spiritual Care
  • Caregiver Support
  • Wellness Programs
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Children’s Programs
  • Community Palliative/Outreach/Shared Care Teams