Palliative care is for patients diagnosed with a terminal illness. It is often confused with end-of-life care but end-of-life care only refers to the fourth stage of the 5 Stages of Palliative Care. Palliative care is more holistic and entails all of the support provided to patients from the moment they are diagnosed with a terminal illness to bereavement support for family and friends.
Palliative care aims to improve the overall wellness of patients with an incurable illness. The day-to-day care will vary for each person depending on their diagnosis, specific needs, and wants. Hence, it’s important to create a personalised care plan for each patient outlining their exact requirements. Usually, a care plan will include the following:
Organising palliative care through a home care agency, such as Tiggo Care, has several benefits for patients and their families. This blog post will highlight a handful of the benefits our clients have experienced from receiving our palliative home care service.
It’s well-known that home care visits reduce hospitalisations among frail adults, particularly home care delivered as part of an integrated team of nurses, occupational therapists and other healthcare professionals. For example, one study in Sweden showed a 92% reduction in the number of days spent in the hospital and an 80% reduction in the number of visits to A&E among frail older people receiving person-centred integrated care. To fully realise this benefit it’s important to use a managed home care provider rather than a self-employed care assistant because managed services better integrate with local health services, such as GPs and community nurses.
In most cases, your loved one will require assistance managing pain and the symptoms associated with their illness. The causes of their pain will need to be identified and assessed for it to be properly managed. Pain can be physical, psychological, or a combination of both. A professionally trained care assistant can help identify the cause and carry out regular pain assessments.
Most patients receiving palliative care will use medication to relieve their pain and symptoms. Care assistants can support patients with medication routines and will know if a patient needs additional pain relief. Not all pain is managed with medication and many patients will use a combination of pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments. Examples of nonpharmacological treatments include:
By organising palliative care for your loved one they will have a dedicated care assistant who can support them with these complementary techniques.
One of the main goals of palliative care is to improve the quality of life of patients with advanced illnesses and this goes beyond managing pain and symptoms. As the illness progresses your loved one might find it increasingly difficult to complete household tasks, such as cooking and cleaning. Organising palliative care at home will ensure that they have a care assistant available to support them with these tasks. This will allow your loved one to spend less time worrying about household chores and will give them more time to do the things they love. At some point, your loved one might also find that they need assistance with personal care, e.g., showering and dressing, and their care assistant can help them with this too.
When you receive a terminal diagnosis it’s common to experience a range of emotions, such as anxiety, fear, and depression. Often people assume that those diagnosed with a terminal illness will automatically suffer from depression. However, the rate of depression among patients with terminal illnesses is much lower than one might expect. For example, one study found that only 17% of terminally ill cancer patients were clinically depressed.
If your loved one feels scared, depressed or anxious their palliative care assistant will encourage them to seek help from a counsellor, family member, religious professional or spiritual professional. The palliative care team might also recommend complementary therapies such as music therapy or physical activity, which have been shown to positively impact the emotional well-being of patients, even those with advanced cancer.
Lastly, palliative care should include supporting the family and friends of the person diagnosed with a terminal illness. A good care assistant will ask your loved one who’s most important to them and will take the time to get to those know people. So long as your loved one gives consent, their care assistant will ensure that everyone is kept up to date about their care.
When your loved one passes away the palliative care assistants will be around to provide emotional and psychological support. Palliative care teams understand the unique challenges and distress that family and friends may experience during this difficult time. They offer a compassionate and nonjudgmental space where friends and family members can express their fears, sadness, and other emotions, and receive validation and understanding.
Properly organised palliative care provides support to patients with a terminal illness. At-home palliative care can reduce hospital visits, help ensure pain and symptoms are properly managed, improve the patient's quality of life, and decrease their risk of depression. Palliative care teams also offer compassionate support during and after the loss of a loved one to their friends and family. Overall, palliative care teams aim to improve the overall wellness of patients and their families.
Hospice care is offered to people who require end-of-life care, which is the fourth stage of the 5 Stages of Palliative Care. The focus of hospice care is easing pain and ensuring your loved one is as comfortable as possible. People requiring hospice care usually have less than 6 months to live. Hospice care can be delivered at home or in a specialised hospice care facility. Some nursing homes and hospitals also provide hospice care.
Palliative care is the provision of support and treatment for those living with a terminal illness from the moment they are diagnosed to bereavement support for family and friends. End-of-life care refers to the fourth stage of the 5 Stages of Palliative Care where the focus is providing comfort and pain relief to a patient who has less than 6 months to live.
Yes! Palliative care can be provided at home by a home care service provider or by a hospice. Organising palliative care at home offers the convenience and comfort of familiar surroundings while ensuring patients receive the necessary support and assistance.
Family and friends can benefit from palliative care through emotional and psychological support, assistance with caregiving tasks, access to information and resources, and ongoing bereavement support after the loss of a loved one. Palliative care professionals offer a compassionate and understanding space for loved ones to express their emotions and find solace during the challenging journey.
Get in touch with Tiggo Care today to see how we can help you or your loved one.