The West Island Palliative Care Residence has opened a new institute to help improve end-of-life care in Quebec and throughout the country.

With 23 beds, the palliative care residence is seen as a model for end-of-life care, providing a quiet and peaceful space where thousands of Quebecers have come to live their final days with dignity.

It's now hoping to help all Canadians have access the same kind of palliative services it provides.

“It's not just about providing the beds; it's about providing the knowledge, the education and just the research on how we're going to do this, so it's really exciting,” said executive director and co-founder Teresa Dellar.

That research will be done at the new Montreal Institute for Palliative Care, where experts will study ways to improve life for people who are dying.

“How we can help people to remain at home as long as they possibly can? Ultimately, that's what people want. They want to be able to remain at home and a lot of the reasons why they can't, often, are because of the social issues, and not having the support,” Dellar explained.

It's a growing issue nationwide: About 80 per cent of Canadians die in hospitals and long-term care facilities, not at home or in a palliative care centre.

The new institute hopes to share expertise in communities beyond Montreal.

“We need to expand and in order to do this, we need an institute where there'll be courses given, continuous professional education provided and so on,” said advisory committee chair Dr. Bernard Lapointe.

It will also focus on something called ‘compassionate communities,’ a movement that has grown in Europe.

“To mobilize a community to care for people in their homes in the final stages or even as they're trying to live at home with a life-limiting illness,” said Dellar.

The goal is to bring the movement into communities where palliative care centres don’t exist, a province-wide need Health Minister Gaetan Barrette acknowledged.

“It will have success, there's no doubt in my mind. Will it end up creating new facilities? I think so,” he said.

Entirely funded by private donors, the Montreal Institute for Palliative Care has already raised the $1.5 million for its first three years of operations.