Cancer palliative care is a type of care that aims to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease, such as cancer. It can be given with or without curative care, depending on the patient’s goals and preferences. Palliative care can address the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of the patient and their family or caregivers.
One of the options for receiving palliative care is at home. This means that the patient can stay in their familiar and comfortable environment, surrounded by their loved ones. Home palliative care can also reduce the need for hospital visits and admissions, which can be stressful and costly.
However, home palliative care also requires a lot of support and coordination from different health care professionals and services. Some of the benefits and challenges of home palliative care are:
– The patient can have more control and autonomy over their care and daily activities.
– The patient can maintain their dignity and privacy at home.
– The patient can avoid exposure to infections and other risks in hospitals.
– The patient can have more access to their personal belongings and hobbies.
– The patient can have more quality time with their family and friends.
– The patient may need specialized equipment and medications at home, which may not be easily available or affordable.
– The patient may experience more symptoms and complications at home, which may require urgent attention or intervention.
– The patient may need more hands-on care from their family or caregivers, which may be physically and emotionally demanding.
– The patient may feel isolated or lonely at home, especially if they live far from their health care team or support network.
– The patient may face practical issues at home, such as transportation, finances, legal matters, or household chores.
To overcome these challenges, it is important to have a good communication and collaboration between the patient, their family or caregivers, and their health care team. Some of the services and resources that can help with home palliative care are:
– Community nurses: They can provide nursing care at home, such as wound dressing, catheter care, injections, or blood tests. They can also advise on pain and symptom management, and provide emotional support.
– Palliative care specialists: They are doctors or nurses who have special training and expertise in palliative care. They can assess the patient’s needs and preferences, prescribe and adjust medications, coordinate other services, and facilitate advance care planning.
– Hospice services: They are organizations that provide palliative care for patients who are expected to live for less than six months. They can offer home visits, day hospice programs, respite care, bereavement support, and volunteer services.
– Social workers: They can help with practical issues, such as applying for benefits, arranging transportation, accessing community resources, or making legal arrangements. They can also provide counseling and advocacy for the patient and their family or caregivers.
– Other professionals: Depending on the patient’s needs and wishes, they may benefit from other professionals who can offer different types of therapies or interventions at home. These may include physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, pharmacists, psychologists, chaplains, or complementary therapists.
Home palliative care can be a rewarding and meaningful option for patients with cancer who want to spend their last days at home. However, it also requires a lot of planning and preparation to ensure that the patient’s needs are met and their quality of life is maintained. If you or your loved one are considering home palliative care, talk to your health care team about what is available and suitable for you.