To see someone dear to you face the end of life is always challenging. Figuring out health care options can feel confusing and overwhelming, and when you’re grappling with difficult choices and trying to maintain stability in your own life during a time of crisis, it can feel nearly impossible to find time to just sit down and breathe.
Palliative care is a holistic approach to specialized medical care for people with life-limiting illnesses. It is meant to create comfort and increase the quality of life for people who are no longer able to care for themselves.
Palliative care is often confused with hospice which means the end of life. While both concentrate on providing comfort to patients, there is a difference. Hospice care is given after treatment for an illness has already begun and it ends when it is clear that the person is not going to survive the illness, whereas Palliative care can begin at the time of diagnosis.
Integracare is a Senior health care service that specializes in Palliative care at home for those who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening condition or serious illness.
When is Palliative Care Appropriate?
For individuals with a serious or life-threatening disease Palliative care provides medical and related treatment towards living as fully and as well as possible. Healthcare professionals embrace the values, goals, and wishes of patients when considering disease management and relief from fear, anxiety, and pain.
The National Consensus Project on Palliative Care describes it this way: “Palliative care is both a philosophy of care and an organized, highly structured system for delivering care. The goal of Palliative care is to prevent and relieve suffering and to support the best possible quality of life for patients and their families, regardless of the stage of the disease or the need for other therapies.”
The most common health conditions addressed in Palliative care are:
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
- Alzheimer’s disease and other Dementias
- Spinal cord injuries
- Brain diseases such as stroke, ALS, or Parkinson’s
- HIV/ AIDS
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
When patients begin Palliative care, there is a formal assessment of their health early in the process. Symptoms most commonly addressed include:
- Discomfort or pain
- Shortness of breath
- A lack of appetite
- Sleep issues
The Palliative approach focuses not just on difficult symptoms of an illness, but on the overall health and wellness benefits and/or side effects of potential treatments, and the emotional, physical, and financial stresses for someone dealing with a serious, or life-threatening disease. Ensuring patients’ dignity and care are critical components.
Palliative care is highly likely to be recommended when:
- There are three or more visits to a hospital with the same symptoms within a year
- Frequent emergency room visits
- Eating and digestive problems due to serious illness
- Serious side effects from treatments such as chemotherapy
There is less emphasis on finding a cure when a patient is in Palliative care. What matters most is a patient’s comfort level and that they are experiencing life as fully as possible.
Our Clients’ quality of life is what matters most to us. At Integracare we ensure to incorporate all types of care into your loved one’s health plan. It is comprised of several types of care and as a whole, by providing patients with all facets of emotional and physical support, Palliative care reduces symptoms of pain, stress, depression, and much more.
Let’s take a look at what these types are, and how Palliative care can help your loved one to feel safe, comfortable, and loved.
What does Palliative Care Entail?
Palliative care works best when you start it as soon as you need it during the treatment process. Patients who receive Palliative care alongside other treatments for illnesses and conditions typically have less severe systems, are more satisfied with treatments, and report to have a higher quality of life.
There are four major Palliative care types that are available to patients. These include: social, emotional, spiritual, and physical.
When an individual has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or serious condition, to say the least, it can feel overwhelming. Often, patients might not want to discuss health matters with their family or friends for fear of burdening them.
Integracare provides in home nursing care in Toronto to patients who choose to stay at home during this phase of life. Our highly qualified and experienced Registered Practical Nurse (RPNs) and Personal Support Workers (PSWs) not only deliver excellent medical and health support, but they offer a compassionate and engaging care for Clients.
We like to think that our in-home RPNs and PSWs are an extension of your family and friends. Integracare RPNs and PSWs develop strong bonds with Clients. There is a level of understanding that unfolds between the two that is difficult to truly comprehend. They sometimes spend up to 12 hours together, and the moments shared between a Client and RPN or PSW can be difficult, but the wisdom that is felt by both can also be beautiful and profound.
Often, Clients receiving Palliative care request to speak with a social worker or a therapist. This can be extremely beneficial, because although RPNs and PSWs are always there for your loved one, sometimes another professional opinion can help to facilitate certain situations — for example, coordinate a family meeting.
When a patient is diagnosed with a critical illness, many emotions are triggered. Feelings of depression, anxiety, stress, anger — these are all real emotions that can too easily be brushed aside. The truth is, these are real feelings and they can hinder a person’s well-being.
Our RPNs and PSWs provide emotional support to Clients every step of the way. They are there to listen and help with daily tasks such as making a bed or preparing a meal; certain tasks that Clients might not feel up completing themselves sometimes.
Our Caregivers can offer coping mechanisms and suggestions on how to understand these difficult feelings.
We will also work with your loved one’s health team to ensure the best possible care. Our staff advocates for your family and friends, and if they believe a psychologist is needed, they will discuss this with both your loved one’s health team and you and your family.
Having a life-threatening illness can bring up a lot of questions, including those related to spirituality. A patient might wonder how and why this is happening to them, and they might be thinking about how they can best come to terms with what is taking place.
Our staff of experienced and compassionate Caregivers listens to all of your loved ones’ needs. We can reach out to those in various communities who might be able to help provide spiritual support.
Massage Therapy and Dementia Care
At Integracare, we go above and beyond the essentials of Palliative care. In addition to the crucial nursing and support components of care, we also offer services such as massage therapy and specialized Dementia care for Palliative clients.
Our compassionate and gentle Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) provide light massage techniques to help alleviate any pain associated with any illness or treatment such as chemotherapy.
There are many myths surrounding Palliative care but what is most important to know is that it is accessible and available to anyone who expresses an interest. Palliative care can help your family member or friend feel restful and comfortable in a time of duress. You too will experience moments of reprieve, from simply knowing that your loved one will always be in the best possible care.