Naheed Dosani

Founder and lead physicianPalliative Education And Care for the Homeless (PEACH), Inner City Health Associates

Assistant Clinical ProfessorDivision of Palliative Care, Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University

LecturerDivision of Palliative Care, Department of Family & Community Medicine, University of Toronto

Recipient of Governor General of Canada’s Meritorious Service Cross for Humanitarianism

Dr. Naheed Dosani is a palliative care physician who cares for homeless and vulnerably housed individuals with dignity and compassion, whether in a shelter or on the street.

During his family medicine residency at a Toronto shelter, Dr. Dosani had an experience with a homeless man who was dying of cancer, while also suffering with mental health issues and addictions. Despite working closely with the man to develop trust and a pain management plan, Dr. Dosani returned to the shelter one morning to learn that his patient was found dead on the street having overdosed the night before.

The experience had a profound effect on Dr. Dosani and the trajectory of his career, motivating him to find ways to bridge the gap from the policy level to the individual level.
During his final year of residency in palliative care at the University of Toronto, Dosani approached the Inner City Health Associates (ICHA) with an idea: to expand ICHA’s primary and mental health programs for the homeless and those with unreliable housing to include palliative care needs for those with life-limiting illness.

After a year of planning, Dr. Dosani founded and launched Palliative Education And Care for the Homeless (PEACH) on the day he graduated in July 2014.

PEACH delivers community-based hospice palliative care to society’s most vulnerable individuals regardless of their housing status or factors such as poverty or substance use. The program brings housing, mental health and healthcare providers together to plan an individual’s care while recognizing, but not judging, that person’s circumstances.

This model of care has inspired similar programs in other cities across the continent and the development of Journey Home Hospice, Toronto’s first hospice for the homeless which opened in May 2018.

Raising awareness of the critical need to support access to palliative care for homeless and structurally vulnerable people is one of Dr. Dosani’s passions. His advocacy efforts include education and research, an active social media presence and coverage in national print and broadcast media. He frequently presents to medical students, physicians, interprofessional colleagues and the public.

In February 2018, Dr. Dosani received a Meritorious Service Cross for humanitarianism from Governor General Julie Payette, for being a trailblazer in providing mobile end-of-life care for the homeless and those with unreliable housing. The Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians recognized Dr. Dosani with a humanitarian award in May 2019 and the Canadian Medical Association celebrated his work with the Award for Young Leaders in 2020.

Follow: @NaheedD