Palliative Care Staff Plan

Palliative Care Workforce Planning

Project Title
Planning the number and distribution of specialist palliative care personnel for Nova Scotia: an operations research approach

Time Period and Funding
2017-2019, Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation (NSHRF) Development/Innovation Grant. $14,995

Principal Investigator
Majid Taghavi

Co-Investigators and Collaborators
Grace Johnston, Robin Urquhart, Kai Huang, Cheryl Tschupruk, David Henderson, Beth Tupala

Project staff
Erin Raine for literature review and geographic coding
Min Hu to code retrieval of Vital Statistics death data
Reza Rajabi to code operations research model

To overcome inequality of access to palliative care by using operations research (OR) to provide an evidence-based plan for the number and distribution of specialist palliative care physicians, nurses, and social workers over the next 20 years across Nova Scotia.


  • Carry out a literature review on palliative care workforce planning
  • Develop a mathematical model that captures relevant factors in planning for specialist palliative care personnel
  • Provide solution to this operations research model to palliative care managers for their critique
  • Carry out what-if sensitivity analysis for parameters of the model


  • Review literature on methods and parameters used for palliative care workforce planning.
  • Develop and code the OR model.
  • Collect data to prepare parameters for use in the OR model including a 20 year projection of deaths by geographic area, palliative care staff salaries, their work hours, and a survey of palliative care nurses to estimate the time required per decedent, travel time, and administrative time.
  • Prepare detailed methods document.
  • Team review of the model at midpoint.
  • End-of-project team review of method details and output from the model.

“Workforce Planning Survey of Specialist Palliative Care Program Nurses in 2018 in Nova Scotia, Canada”
Papers and presentations reporting on

  •     literature review
  •     palliative care nurse survey
  •     OR model and its justification
  •     solution(s) from the OR model

Project proposal submission to a granting agency (e.g. NSERC) to further build this work