Originally, the North Dakota Rural Community-Based Palliative Care project was chosen by Stratis Health for a multi-state effort to increase access to palliative care services in rural communities. North Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Washington collaborated in this multi-faceted project to increase access to palliative care services in rural communities and improve quality of life and quality of care for those with advanced illness and complex care needs.
Community team efforts in North Dakota were supported and continue to be supported by the Center for Rural Health (CRH) and the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex) grant program, a Health Resources and Services Administration funded grant.
The participating communities received support to build a rural community-based palliative care philosophy and services in their rural area.
Among the goals of the project were:
- Complete a state environmental palliative assessment with the North Dakota Palliative Care Task Force (PCTF) and continue participation in PCTF.
- Identify eight rural communities to participate in the North Dakota Rural Community-Based Palliative Care project.
- Form community-based teams of interdisciplinary representatives from rural hospitals, clinics, home health agencies, nursing homes, hospice programs, and other community organizations in each of the eight rural communities.
- Have each rural community complete an asset and gap analysis related to palliative care services implementation at the beginning and end of the project.
- Provide networking opportunities, planning workshops with community teams, and ongoing mentoring calls.
- Develop individualized community action plans to enhance and implement palliative care services.
Success for each of the participating rural communities and individual care providers depended on the mutual commitment and collaborative efforts of both CRH, Flex, and the participating organizations that began in February 2018 and continued through December 2020.
Although this multi-state project ended in December 2020, the program will continue to work statewide to increase access to palliative care services in rural communities. Palliative care is a basic human right and should be provided everywhere.