At-Home Palliative Care

Life feels like it stops when someone you love gets diagnosed with a severe condition or life-limiting illness. It’s something that may have crossed your mind before — how you’d react and what measures you’d take to help them. But now, that fearful thought has turned into a reality, and you want to do all that you can to provide all the support your loved one needs. You want to ensure that they’re living a comfortable, happy, and joyful life — and at-home Palliative Care provides precisely that.

Palliative Care is the compassionate approach to treating people with a life-limiting illness. Integracare is proud to offer at-home Palliative Care as part of our Senior home care services in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). We believe that our Clients deserve the very best in emotional and physical support, and professional healthcare. Choosing to age comfortably at home can achieve such things. We offer comprehensive Palliative Care in Toronto and the GTA to Seniors who need specialized home healthcare services. In addition to the treatments your loved one receives from their team of doctors and other medical professionals, Palliative Care provides an extra layer of support, focusing on:

  • Physical Pain
  • Emotional Grief
  • Spiritual Guidance
  • Social Support

The main thing that at-home Palliative Care provides is a chance at a better quality of life for people with serious conditions and their loved ones. To better understand how Palliative Care could become a pertinent part of your family member’s or friend’s healthcare plan, let’s explore some common questions about how it works.

What Is Palliative Care?

Palliative Care is the crucial, specialized medical support that Clients diagnosed with a chronic condition require to increase their quality of life. It starts when a Client receives a diagnosis of a life-limiting illness that may not have a cure and will require customized care and support to continue to live as comfortably as possible. Its focus is on providing relief from the stress and symptoms of chronic illness and severe drug treatments, such as chemotherapy, that cause painful side effects. Palliative Care is provided by specially-trained medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, psychotherapists, spiritual advisors, social workers, and Caregivers.

While the team of doctors and medical specialists treat your loved one’s illness’s clinical element, Palliative Care embraces the human side of things. It’s there to ensure that people aren’t in pain — physically or emotionally — and improve their overall quality of life. Having Palliative Care enables your loved one to seek counseling from a social worker or therapist, if they need. During this challenging and uncertain time of life, many Palliative Care Clients can also ask for any type of spiritual guidance.

Many Seniors choose at-home Palliative Care because of the convenience and level of comfort it brings. The idea of a loved one having to move out of their home to live in an assisted living community during this time might be an alarming one. They feel safe at home; they know it like the back of their hand and have spent some glorious years there.

And most importantly, at-home care is private. You don’t have to worry about your family member coming into contact with viruses from others, and they receive one-on-one attention from Caregivers. Our specialized Caregivers receive in-depth training on what it takes to provide thorough and competent Palliative Care, and when it comes to Clients, they always make sure they’re taken care of by showing compassion and patience at all times.

Who Qualifies?

Are you wondering when Palliative Care is appropriate, or if your loved one qualifies? Caregivers can administer a specialized healthcare plan as soon as a diagnosis for a serious or life-limiting condition has been made. Some of those illnesses include:

  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related illnesses
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Kidney failure
  • AIDS
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Congestive Heart Failure

If your loved one has recently been diagnosed with one of these or any other chronic condition, Palliative Care at home might be a helpful tool to add to your healthcare toolbox.

How Does It Work?

The priority of Palliative Care is to relieve people from physical and emotional turmoil. Healthcare professionals manage pain in several different ways, including medication management, prescribing antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication, and initiating natural pain-relieving methods such as Massage Therapy.

Prescription Medication Management

Our Nurses are specifically trained to monitor Clients taking high doses of pain and anti-inflammatory medication. Your loved one will likely receive a pain assessment from one of our Caregivers or Nurses. A pain assessment is when people describe the level of pain they experience, using a number from one to ten. More urgency is placed on higher levels, but nothing is ever ignored. A higher level of pain might mean that your loved one requires a higher dose of medication. Our Clients and their families must know that we take drugs such as narcotics and opioids very seriously. We work closely with Clients’ doctors to ensure safe and effective prescription monitoring.

Our Nurses also oversee medication for emotional distress and provide compassionate companionship for your loved one. Being told that you have a life-limiting illness isn’t very easy to hear, and many people can fall into a deep, existential plight. Sometimes, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication can help lift that dark cloud — even if it’s just by a little. Our experienced Nurses will help monitor such prescriptions and can hold your family member’s hand through those challenging moments.

We believe that receiving high-quality care at home provides a unique type of comfort, unlike any other. If your family member or friend is interested in our at-home Palliative Care program, they might also want to know about our Live-in Care.

Live-in Care

Some illnesses cause severe pain that’s strong enough to warrant greater supervision. Whether it’s physical or emotional, having a health professional around to monitor symptoms and assist with medication management will bring you and your loved one peace of mind. Our Live-in Caregivers are available in an emergency throughout the night, morning, and afternoon. You won’t wake up in a panic at midnight anymore, wondering if your friend or family member is okay or if they’re in pain, because they’ll have one of our friendly and nurturing Nurses available to handle emergencies.

Massage Therapy

Integracare is proud to offer Massage Therapy as part of our Senior home healthcare program. Our Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) have all been trained to work with Seniors and people with life-limiting conditions. We believe that gentle massage therapy offers a natural solution to pain management and is an effective mechanism for depression and anxiety.

Massage Therapy produces a mechanical response in the body caused by the tender touch of an RMT. Focusing on the right trigger points on the body, the right RMT will encourage relaxation throughout the body — forcing the heart to slow, blood pressure to go down, and the production of stress hormones to decrease. Such ease throughout the body create the following mechanical responses:

  • An increase in lymph and blood circulation.
  • Relaxation of the soft tissues (connective tissue, muscle, tendons, ligaments).

With the gentle touch of one of our RMTs, your loved one could enjoy regular massage therapy to treat any pain felt in the muscles, joints, and bones. The relaxation techniques that cause mechanical responses in the body don’t just get rid of physical pain — Massage Therapy can also benefit people with emotional distress. It can help the body relax, which can also alleviate those anxious and fearful thoughts. A professional massage can relieve muscle tension and pain, increase circulation, and improve flexibility.

It’s often used as a relaxation technique because it helps manage the fight-or-flight response (the physiological reaction that occurs in response to a discerned harmful event or threat to survival), common among people with anxiety disorders. Massage can ease dark feelings of depression. Massage Therapy has been a pain and relaxation tool practiced in China for over 3,000 years, and that’s partly due to its ability to enhance and elevate peoples’ moods.

Health experts suggest that the power of touch releases hormones in the body that create a genuine sense of emotional connection. There’s no doubt that having a life-limiting illness is lonely. It can feel confusing, scary, and many people with chronic disease feel deeply isolated from even their most beloved friends and family members. A loving, soft massage from one of our compassionate RMTs can make a world of difference. There’s a reason why they call it the “healing power of touch.” Recent studies suggest that just by holding someone’s hand, heart rates reduce and synchronize, decreasing pain and producing a calming effect on people.

Our RMTs specifically work with Seniors and Palliative Care Clients, so they’ll never give an aggressive massage and know how to effectively communicate with their Clients to learn precisely what they would like out of the sessions. They’ll come right to your loved one’s place of residence to offer total comfort and relaxation.

What Should I Expect from Home Caregivers?

This is one of the most common home healthcare questions we receive from Clients. Aside from any specialized care and treatment, our Palliative Care Clients receive vital support around the house. Our job is to improve Clients’ quality of life in any way possible. We carefully match our trained, certified or registered, and experienced Nurses with Clients by keeping track of Clients’ preferences, interests, healthcare needs, and abilities.

Our hiring process is thorough and in-depth because Seniors must receive the best that home healthcare has to offer. All of our Caregivers (Personal Support Workers, Registered Practical Nurses, Physiotherapists and Registered Massage Therapists) are screened for police clearances, annual medical check-ups, bonding, and photo-identification.

When you choose to work with us, your loved one’s Caregivers offer personal support and a customized at-home care program. You can expect the following when required:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Cleaning and tidying the house
  • Prescription Management
  • Toileting
  • Wound Care
  • Meal Preparation
  • Incontinence Care
  • Companionship, and more

We also have a partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto to provide up-to-date, essential Dementia Care education and training. Our Dementia Care program is closely related to Palliative Care. Many of our Clients with Dementia-related illnesses require significant healthcare and personalized support, including a break from the loneliness that many people with the disease experience.

We think that providing companionship is one of the most important aspects of home healthcare. You can count on us to offer compassion, empathy, and warmth. While all of our Nurses and Caregivers are highly qualified, the thing that makes them stand out is their genuine passion for the job.

We don’t just hire an excellent resume — we ensure that everyone on the Integracare team cares deeply for Seniors’ well-being and exercises outstanding healthcare practices. Your loved one will always be in good hands when he or she is with us. Whether it’s cooking a diabetic meal, changing a surgical bandage, or engaging in a game of Dominos with your family member, we’re here every step of the way.

What’s the Difference Between Palliative and Hospice Care?

A couple of tips for family members to remember when discussing Palliative versus hospice care are:

  • Palliative Care is recommended as soon as a life-limiting illness diagnosis has been made.
  • Hospice care starts after treatment of the disease has stopped, and when it’s inevitable that the person isn’t going to recover.

While both support systems’ goal is to offer comfort and increase the quality of life, Palliative Care focuses on providing pain relief to people at any disease stage. At Integracare, we’re proud to offer Palliative Care services to those who require them, regardless of the illness’s stage. Our Caregivers are trained and equipped to provide the necessary level of support as Clients’ symptoms, and treatments develop.

Ensuring that your loved one is comfortable, safe, and relaxed is the most important thing you can do right now. Palliative Care increases your family member or friend’s quality of life and gives you peace of mind. It’s important to acknowledge that this is a challenging time for the entire family right now, so knowing that they’re taken care of in the comfort of home, day or night, offers you and your family a small reprieve.