There are various benefits to providing palliative care at home for those suffering from terminal health conditions.
Home care benefits
For the patient:
They remain in a familiar environment, maintaining their privacy, being able to perform certain work tasks, continue with their habits and some of their hobbies. The food is more varied, and the schedules are not as rigid.
For the family:
They achieve greater satisfaction by actively participating in the care. They can perform the care more calmly, without hassle. They feel that they are able to respect the patient’s will to remain at home, and, importantly, pathological grief is prevented.
For the health system:
Long, high-cost hospital stays are reduced. It avoids performing unnecessary treatments, decreasing the possibility of falling into therapeutic hardships. In overburdened health systems, the economic savings that can occur through displacing hospitalisations to the continuous home care sector can be significant. This allows for greater efficiency in public health.
Necessary requirements for the patient to remain at home
It is necessary if the patient wants to be at home that they have an adequate social and family environment and that their family can take care of them. Also, health professionals will be required to perform palliative care at home. Finally, it should be ensured that all medical equipment necessary for care can be installed within the home of the patient.
Typically, a palliative care team consists of a medical coordinator, two field doctors, two psychologists, two nurses, two physiotherapists and a nutritionist. Every week there is a group meeting where all the patients that are being assisted are analysed, and problems discussed that arise in the control of symptoms and psychosocial aspects, and any new needs that arise. These meetings also serve to strengthen knowledge of the area, since they update topics of medicine and palliative care. The professionals of the team, beyond the weekly meeting, present a fluid communication among themselves through the daily evolution that is based on the patient’s clinical history report, which remains at the home.
Palliative care at home also offers the possibility of laboratory analysis at home, radiographs and transfusion medicine, when required. It is also possible to consult other professionals, for example neurologists, pneumonologists, who come to the patient’s home.
Home palliative care is growing in popularity due to the many benefits for both the patient and family members. Patients enjoy an enhanced quality of life and easier access to family, which help contribute to better health outcomes for the patient. Home care also helps in reducing stress for family members dealing with this difficult and sensitive situation. Whenever possible, caring for the patient at home should be considered as the first, and best, option.