MAiDHouse Ensures a Welcoming Space

Pillows on a bed and a bedside table with a lamp

An organization devoted to providing a supportive, inclusive and home-like setting for medical assistance in dying (MAID) is now welcoming those patients who do not wish to have the procedure take place either at their home or in a hospital.

Dr. Chantal Perrot, a Toronto family physician, said she became aware of the need for such a space in 2016, when she began working as a MAID assessor/provider and patients spoke of their reluctance to have a MAID death at home.

A significant number of patients, she said, were uncomfortable with the prospect of a MAID procedure at home for personal or cultural reasons, or because their living situation did not afford them the ability to have the procedure done in privacy.

If an individual was homeless or had insecure housing, matters could become even more challenging, said Dr. Perrot. Moreover, many residential hospices in Ontario do not permit MAID on their premises. The same is true for most faith-based institutions, such as Catholic-sponsored hospitals and palliative care units. And those hospitals that do allow MAID procedures don’t have adequate facilities to provide a safe, quiet and intimate space for them.

“I have consistently had input from patients over the past five years who spoke of their wish for a place where they could go and really be welcomed, feel safe and have comforting care in those last hours. It would have been important to them to have had such a space,” she said.

MAiDHouse does not provide any clinical or support services. Its mandate is simply to provide a safe, reliable, and comfortable venue for patients and their families who are already going through the MAID eligibility process with a doctor or nurse practitioner.

“Equal access for all regardless of their circumstances is a major goal,” said Dr. Marc Gabel, a GP-Psychotherapist who sits on the MAiDHouse Advisory Council and the Clinical Practice Committee. “MAiDHouse provides what is needed at this fraught time in people’s life journey,” said Dr. Gabel, who is also a former President of CPSO.

To date, the biggest challenge for the organization is its inability to secure a permanent location in the Greater Toronto Area. Landlords, said Dr. Perrot, have been reluctant to take MAiDHouse on as a tenant for fear of the location becoming a focus of negative attention by those opposed to MAID. Since early May, it has been set up in a temporary location in midtown Toronto.

MAiDHouse provides information, resources and services for those eligible to receive MAID, their families and health care providers. It is registered as a Canada not-for-profit corporation and charity in Toronto under the name Assisted-Dying Resource Centres Canada.

There are no fees to use MAiDHouse premises, but donations are accepted.

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