What Is Palliative Care at Home? Understanding Your Options
When a loved one faces a serious illness or nearing the end of their life, it can be an emotional and challenging time for the patient and their family. During this difficult period, it is essential to ensure your loved one is as comfortable, pain-free and supported as possible to maintain their dignity and quality of life. This is where palliative care comes in.
According to the KFF (a non-profit palliative care organization), approximately 71% of Americans say that given a choice, they would prefer to die at home, with few (roughly 9%) saying they would choose a hospital . Palliative care at home is becoming increasingly favorable if given a choice.
This article will explore the benefits of palliative care at home and what that looks like.
What Is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is specialized medical care that provides comfort and support to patients who face serious illness or life-threatening illnesses, primarily due to aging. Many refer to palliative care as “comfort care,” as its’ goal is to alleviate the symptoms of pain and stress associated with the illness while improving the quality of life for both the patient and their family.
Palliative care can be confused with hospice care because they both share the goal of improving patients’ quality of life. However, there are some significant differences. One key difference is that palliative care can be provided at any stage of an illness, whereas hospice care is provided at the end of a patient’s life (usually the final six months). To learn more about end-of-life vs. hospice care, read our latest article here.
Palliative care is for individuals who seek curative treatments. Palliative care services focus on the spiritual support, physical support, symptom relief, and emotional support of patients. Palliative care can be provided in various settings, including hospitals, hospices, palliative care facilities, and in the comfort of one’s home.
Who Can Benefit From Palliative Care at Home?
Individuals living with chronic illnesses or life-limiting illnesses can benefit from palliative care. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Various types of dementia disease and Alzheimer’s disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Heart failure and stroke
- Fragile X, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, or other movement disorders such as Huntington’s disease
- Organ diseases such as kidney disease, liver disease, and organ failures
Depending on a person’s health condition, a doctor and a skilled nursing team typically recommend palliative care if needed. Palliative care can be helpful for any stage of the illness and is very helpful for helping patients determine their advance care planning and treatment options.
Who Is on the Palliative Care Team?
Many healthcare providers make up the palliative care team; some include:
- A palliative care specialist, including palliative doctors and nurses
- Skilled nursing staff
- Social workers
- Support groups
- Occasionally a nutritionist, chaplain, or other spiritual professionals
Depending on the level of care required, the palliative care team may vary and adapt as the treatment progresses.
What Does Palliative Care at Home Look Like?
Palliative care can be provided in various settings. However, as previously mentioned, most individuals opt for palliative care at home rather than in a hospital or palliative care facility.
Palliative care at home looks different than palliative care in a pre-established medical setting. Palliative care at home is designed to provide comfort and support in the familiar and comfortable environment of a person’s own home. Depending on the needs of the patient, palliative care at home may include a range of services, such as:
- Pain and symptom management: This may involve medication management, physical therapy, or other interventions to alleviate pain and other symptoms associated with the illness.
- Emotional and spiritual support: Health care providers may offer counseling or other support services to help patients and their families cope with the emotional and spiritual aspects of the illness.
- Assistance with daily activities: A palliative team can assist individuals with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, and feeding, to help patients maintain their independence and quality of life.
- Care coordination: Palliative care providers may work with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and social workers, to ensure that patients receive comprehensive and coordinated care.
- End-of-life planning: Palliative care providers may assist patients and their families with end-of-life planning, including advance care planning, personal directives, and other decisions related to end-of-life care.
Overall, palliative care at home is designed to provide personalized, compassionate, and comprehensive care to patients with serious illnesses in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes. It is intended to improve the patient’s and their family’s quality of life while ensuring that their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are met.
How To Set up the Home for Palliative Care?
There are several factors to consider when opting for palliative care at home. Prepping the house for palliative care is essential to ensuring your palliative care team can provide home palliative care services safely and adequately.
Nurse Next Door understands that setting up a home for palliative care can be daunting for many families. That’s why our compassionate and experienced Care Team can provide guidance and support to help make this process smooth sailing.
Call us at any point in your care journey to discuss what steps you need to take to ensure your loved one is safe, properly equipped, and comfortable at home. Call us toll-free at 1-877-588-8609.
Below, we’ve listed some essential steps to consider when setting up the home for palliative care services:
1) Create a comfortable and peaceful environment: Our Nurse Next Door caregivers can help create a soothing atmosphere by adjusting the home’s lighting, temperature, and décor to reduce stress and promote relaxation for your loved one. Many palliative clients prefer a warmer and cozy environment – we can help you achieve just that!
2) Ensure safety: Our number one priority is ensuring home safety. Our caregivers can identify and remove potential tripping hazards and safety concerns. Our team may recommend installing proper handrails in hallways and bathrooms, adding anti-slip mats and surfaces, and ensuring that all necessary equipment is in good working order.
3) Arrange for medical equipment and supplies: It’s important to prepare any medical equipment and supplies, such as hospital beds, wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, and medical supplies necessary for your loved one’s palliative care treatment. Our Nurse Next Door caregivers and the rest of your palliative care team can help you determine what equipment and supplies you may need for your loved one’s advanced illness. We recommend planning and ensuring everything is set up for your loved one so they do not need to worry when the treatment begins.
4) Establish a communication plan: Our caregivers can work with your palliative care team to establish a clear communication plan that includes emergency contact information, medication instructions, and other essential care discussions. A great resource to consider when establishing a communication plan is to create an organized binder or health journal that includes all vital information pertaining to your loved one’s treatment plan.
5) Consider the needs of caregivers: Our Nurse Next Door’s care team understands the critical role of caregivers in palliative care and can provide resources to support the family with their own physical and emotional well-being. If you’re a family caregiver, a break from caregiving duties may just be what you need to feel rested and re-aligned. Respite care may be a great option to consider when you need to take care of yourself for a little while. Nurse Next Door understands that looking after a sick loved one is a full-time role for family caregivers. It may be essential to your own health! And it’s okay to ask for help or take a welcome break now and again.
6) Develop a care plan: Our caregivers can work with your specialized palliative healthcare team to develop a comprehensive care plan that addresses your loved one’s medical needs, medications, and other important palliative plans. This will ensure that all caregivers are always on the same page and that your loved one receives consistent care.
Nurse Next Door’s end-of-life care and palliative care services are designed to provide personalized and compassionate care to clients with serious illnesses in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes. Our caregivers work closely with healthcare providers and families to ensure that your loved one’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are at the forefront and that they receive the best possible care and support during this difficult time.
It’s about caring. We make it our mission to ensure your palliative care experience is as burden-free as possible. We aim to ensure your loved one maintains as much dignity as possible throughout their entire palliative journey. Nurse Next Door provides around-the-clock emotional and physical support every day while continually improving quality of their lives every single day.
Give us a call toll-free at +1(877) 588-8609.
Read our Caring Blog for more articles on senior topics!
Here is what some of Nurse Next Door clients are saying:
“We have been receiving service for my mom from Nurse Next Door and couldn’t be any happier. We have never felt any safer than now since we know she is in good hands. This team feels like family.”
– Kamelia A. (Client’s daughter)
“Nurse Next Door did an awesome job of caring for my Mom. They are dependable and were very caring toward my Mom. I would use Nurse Next Door again if the need arose.” – Shelley G. (Client’s daughter)