“There’s no place like home… there’s no place like home” Dorothy repeats, as she clicks the heels of her ruby slippers, using Glinda the Good Witch’s spell to transport her out of Oz and back home to Kansas with Auntie Em, Uncle Henry, and her beloved dog, Toto.
Dorothy was on to something. “There’s no place like home,” is in fact among the mantras shared among nearly all of humanity. There are particular foods, pieces of furniture, smells, sounds, and features that make each of us feel safe and well-ensconced. Home and Garden television programs, celebrity chefs, and interior decorating operations are all part of overwhelming commercial efforts to help each of us make the places we live into a bona fide home. Whether we’re young and thriving or aging in a familiar environment, home helps us feel cared for and secure. Perhaps that’s why home hospice and palliative care is so effective in its treatment philosophy. Home Hospice and palliative care providers provide ways for patients to receive comfort care, and support while helping patients to learn about the unique aspects of living during end-of-life.
When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Home
When treatments are no longer working to cure an illness or injury and the prognosis offered by a trained physician looks like six months or less to live, it is time for patients and their loved ones to consider options such as hospice care that helps patients to feel more comfortable. A hospice team is likely to include physicians, nurses, therapists, social workers, spiritual care leaders, volunteers, and loved ones, who together can help prepare a manageable plan of care to keep patients in their home until the very end.
Patients in the process of dying are likely to have a complicated constellation of experiences, including pain and other discomfort, mental distress, and spiritual questions. This is because the dying process contends with some of the most dearly held aspects of human life: physical comfort and relationships. Experiencing these symptoms at home has been shown to ease some of the burden. Rather than find themselves surrounded by unfamiliar faces, scents, sounds, and patterns of living, patients who receive hospice and palliative care at home have one substantially reduced aspect of their end-of-life experience – after all, there’s no place like home.
Care At Home
Among the understandable fears patients and their loved ones may face is how to provide pain management outside of a hospital or nursing facility. That is why home hospice and palliative care providers frequently send a nurse or other team member to individual homes to regularly assess levels of patient comfort and recommend necessary adjustments to medication and other treatments intended to relieve suffering. When a home hospice nurse or other provider visits, the plan of care will be assessed based on what the patients report and how loved ones observe the patient’s condition.
Family members and other loved ones are considered an integral part of the home hospice and palliative care team, often performing the tasks hired institution workers (such as in a hospital or nursing facility) would often provide. Loved ones assist a patient’s desire to die at home by providing daily medication, helping with mobility or shifting positions, offering food and drink, and maintaining hygiene. Hospice and palliative care organizations believe that while it is good and important to have support from a number of team members, family members and loved ones will often provide the best, most comforting care to patients – because there’s no place like home.
Family is Part of the Team
When providing comfort and end of life care at home, family members and primary caregivers often feel concerned about providing care. Am I giving the medicine to Dad correctly? Have I helped Mom turn over often enough to prevent bedsores? He seems to be hurting more than usual? I hope I don’t embarrass her when helping to keep her clean. Hospice and palliative care teams are open and available to all these questions and much more throughout the entire end-of-life process. Physicians, nurses, therapists, and volunteers will ensure that expert information is always accessible as families and loved ones need it.
Most hospice centers have a 24-hour phone line open all days of the week, and if problems cannot be resolved over the telephone, hospice will often send out an on-call provider to come with in-person assistance. This means that families caring for a loved one at home rarely, if ever, experience the frustration of calling 911 or transporting a patient to a local ER. It is also important to note that expert advice about care as well as information about what to expect throughout the various stages of terminal illness will be offered from the outset of any hospice relationship, with hopes that such information will equip families with confidence, preempting many of the potentially anxious or uncertain moments to come.
All the Support You Need
Patients and families alike will experience confusion and ask questions such as, What happens during the final days of life? Throughout the entire process of dying, hospice and palliative care providers will be sure to deliver any comfort care medication or equipment needed and show at-home caretakers how to administer or use these items. Hospice is there not only to provide everything needed for patients to experience a manageable, good death, but to help shepherd and support family members along the way – not only during the dying process, but for at least 13 months following a loved one’s death.
It is possible to live well at home, just as it is possible to die well at home. Hospice can help, because included in the hospice philosophy is the recognition that if patients and their loved one’s desire care in the places they feel most comfortable and secure – because after all, there’s no place like home.
Contact Harbor Light Hospice For More Information
If you would like more information about providing comfort care for loved ones at home, please contact Harbor Light Hospice for a free, confidential consultation by sending us a message online or giving us a call today.