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Palliative comes from the Latin word palliare, or, to cloak. It’s a term that symbolizes protection and comfort. Palliative Care is the interdisciplinary healthcare approach applied to people with life-threatening illnesses and severe conditions. Like a warm, soothing blanket, this type of care shields people from harm and suffering. Palliative Care is the compassionate, interdisciplinary caregiving approach focused on optimizing people’s quality of life with severe and life-limiting conditions. Medical doctors often recommended it to patients to receive in conjunction with their other primary treatments. A specialized team of Caregivers, Nurses, and doctors provide Palliative Care, and the goal is to manage the painful physical and emotional symptoms of having a life-limiting illness.

If someone you know has a severe or life-limiting condition, you’re familiar with the harsh, crippling side-effects caused by medications and treatments, such as chemotherapy. Your loved one might experience debilitating physical pain in addition to feeling isolated, depressed, and anxious. Palliative Care provides a helpful solution to the physical and mental agony of living with such discomfort. Are you and your loved one discussing healthcare options? Are you wondering if you would benefit from Palliative Care services in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)?

We’re Integracare, a leading home healthcare provider for Seniors specializing in at-home Palliative Care. We bring essential healthcare services directly to your front door. Instead of moving out of the comfort and familiarity of the place they know and love, your friend or family member could receive necessary healthcare and support from their home — whether that’s a house, an apartment, or even a hospital room setting. Our professional and experienced Caregivers and Nursing staff will visit your loved one to provide care essentials and engaging companionship wherever they call home. Our Caregivers and Nurses have tremendous experience providing at-home Palliative Care.

What Is Palliative Care At-Home?

It’s much nicer to enjoy the view of a beloved street or backyard than an overcrowded long-term care facility. Our Clients who request it receive compassionate Palliative Care from trained nurses and Caregivers at home. For many, there’s truly no place like home, and prefer to spend this stressful time in the company of friends and family. Unlike an assisted living facility, home healthcare provides a customized schedule and one-on-one care, day or night. Receiving private care in a familiar place can enhance your loved one’s quality of life because it provides a personalized space designed just for them.

This type of care focuses on reducing or relieving pain, emotional stress, and other undesirable symptoms to improve your loved one’s quality of life. Integracare Nurses and Caregivers will create a personalized healthcare plan for your friend or relative, based on their individual medical and therapeutic needs. The Integracare Care Management team will work alongside your loved one’s doctors to provide optimized support. They’ll provide pain relief by providing tools such as prescription medication management, Massage Therapy, and Physiotherapy. They’ll also discuss emotional and spiritual counselling options with you if your loved one feels overwhelmed from the mental challenges of having a life-limiting disease.

Clients with any serious condition can benefit from adding Palliative Care to their healthcare plan, and you can do so at any stage of the illness. Contrary to hospice care, which has been created for individuals at the end-of-life stage, Palliative Care is available (and encouraged) to include whenever needed throughout the illness. Many people decide to receive it as soon as a diagnosis has been made.

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Are you wondering if your loved one qualifies for this type of holistic support while also receiving their primary treatment? Let’s take a closer look at who can benefit from Palliative Care by taking a closer look at some life-limiting diseases. We’ll also explore how this type of care can significantly increase an individual’s quality of life.

Congestive Heart Failure

When you hear the term “heart failure,” it sounds like the heart suddenly stops working. However, Congestive Heart Failure is a disease that describes the heart not functioning to its full capacity. It’s a severe and progressive condition wherein the heart muscle cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s blood and oxygen requirement. Basically, the heart can’t keep up with its workload. Our home health care providers care for many Clients with heart failure. Did you know that about one in 12 Canadians over the age of 20 live with ongoing heart failure issues? It’s all too common, and without medical assistance, it can be a devastating disease.

The leading cause of heart failure is high blood pressure, and the older you are, the higher your chances of developing the disease become. Congestive Heart Failure episodes include shortness of breath, fatigue, and rapid heartbeat. If someone you love has been diagnosed with heart failure recently, they’ll need to arrange a long-term care plan immediately.

Our Palliative team can manage the structure of your loved one’s healthcare plan to optimize their physical and emotional needs. Congestive Health Failure episodes worsen with time, becoming more sudden and erratic. Having an at-home team of professionals is vital.

Cancer

Did you know that some people refer to Palliative Care as Symptom Management? It’s because Palliative Care’s primary objective is to relieve — or manage — the symptoms and side-effects of an illness. Cancer is a disease caused by uncontrollable dividing cells in the body that spread into surrounding tissues, infiltrating and destroying them. It can spread rapidly throughout the entire body.

There are over 100 types of Cancer. The five most common types are:

Palliative Care should be provided early in the Cancer continuum, regardless of what type, to support your loved one’s overall health and wellbeing. We gradually introduce Palliative Care into Clients’ healthcare plans with other Cancer therapies and treatments, using a multidisciplinary team approach. Our Caregivers will work closely with your loved one’s medical doctors to monitor symptoms and focus on their specific needs.

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Our team will manage symptoms and side effects caused by the many Cancer treatments available today. While helpful, many of these treatments are severely painful to endure for Cancer patients. Does your loved one receive radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or immunotherapy to help treat their disease? Or perhaps they’ve had a major surgery that requires them to stay in bed until all of the surgical wounds heal. Our Palliative team will take every medical precaution, using compassionate care and support, to help them feel as comfortable as possible.

It’s not easy to watch someone you love experience pain, especially when it feels as if you have no control over the situation. But by working with a Palliative team, you might find some solace, knowing that they’re always in good hands.

Dementia

There are over 100 types of Dementia, and the most common is Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a disease affecting the brain and cognitive function. People living with Dementia experience common symptoms, including:

  • Memory Loss
  • An Inability to Problem Solve
  • Behavioural Changes

Dementia is an illness that worsens with time. It progresses in seven stages, from very mild cognitive decline to severe cognitive decline. When the disease reaches the later stages, people living with Dementia can’t live without full-time assistance. Often, they’ll lose the ability to walk, talk, or eat. It’s a debilitating illness, challenging for the patient and their friends and family members.

If your loved one has Dementia, incorporating Palliative Care into their long-term health plan is crucial. You can always reach out to us to get more information about how our services can help your family cope with and process the challenges of living with Dementia. Our Dementia Caregivers and Nurses receive ongoing educational training from The Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto and have extensive, professional experience working with people living with Dementia in all stages of the disease.

Our Dementia Caregivers will help feed, bathe, dress, and accompany your loved one whenever necessary. They’ll also provide compassionate care, even if it’s merely to hold your loved one’s hand to let them know that they’re not alone when you’re not able to be there.

Who Else Can Benefit?

While many of our Palliative Clients have Congestive Heart Failure, Cancer, or Dementia, Palliative Care isn’t limited to those three illnesses. Several other life-limiting medical conditions might require Palliative Care, including:

  • Kidney Failure
  • Neurological Issues, such as Epilepsy and Brain Tumours
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Diabetes
  • COVID-19 (Integracare now offers COVID testing in Toronto so book your test today.)
  • Complex Surgical or Medical Issues
  • And any other critical health concern.

Clients don’t have to be in the disease’s late stages to benefit from Palliative Care. Receiving the support right away will help decrease potential depressive symptoms and encourage Clients to ask questions about their condition and discuss ways to feel comfortable and healthy.

Many people also think there’s an age requirement for Palliative Care. However, that’s not true. Anyone who has a life-limiting illness can benefit from this type of care.

The Restorative Process

It’s also important to remember that Palliative Care isn’t a cure. It’s there to provide comfort and increase the quality of life for people with life-limiting illnesses. Integracare offers specialized services for Palliative Clients to ease pain and create a soothing, relaxing environment.

For example, if your loved one recently had Cancer surgery, they’ll need professionals to tend to their surgical wounds. Post-surgery is a critical time to rest and ensure that medical professionals regularly treat any open sores. Our Wound Care Nurses can visit your friend or family member as much as needed to provide expert Wound Care at home.

Physiotherapy

Your loved one might also need light, gentle Physiotherapy to help alleviate any body pain. Integracare is fortunate to have professional Registered Physiotherapists on staff. They work with Seniors and Palliative Clients regularly and know how to assess any post-surgical or accident injury softly. Our Registered Physiotherapists will come to your loved one’s place of residence to provide any stretching or movement they’ll require to feel more mobile and less pain.

Massage Therapy

We offer specialized Massage Therapy for our Palliative Clients. Our Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) have been trained to work with individuals at home in Palliative Care, so they understand how to massage with compassion and empathy. One of the many important Palliative Care facts to know as a friend or family member is that people with serious conditions and life-limiting illnesses experience loneliness. It’s common to feel isolated when you’re managing an illness — many people feel like a burden to their friends and family and stop socializing with the people who mean the most to them.

There is healing power in touch. Physical contact releases the bonding hormone oxytocin, which soothes the central nervous system and boosts immune function. A massage from the right RMT can do wonders for your loved one. Customized Massage Therapy will address your friend or family member’s specific symptoms and issues, the side-effects of other treatments, and the physical, emotional, social, and psychological consequences of living with a life-limiting illness. A gentle, empathetic massage can promote a greater sense of connection between the mind and body.

The Facets of Palliative Care

The main focus of Palliative Care is to alleviate pain caused by li