Types of home care support for cancer patients

Written by Ranger Home Care
5 April 2024

When someone is first diagnosed with cancer, the fear and panic can understandably be overwhelming. It can be very difficult to think straight and emotions are high. Cancer patients may worry about the treatment, the pain and discomfort involved, how loved ones will cope and ultimately, their prognosis.

With all these thoughts spinning around in their mind, researching and organising home care support can become too much to think about. But it’s also very important for individuals dealing with cancer to know exactly what healthcare support is available to them in their own homes.

Let’s have a more detailed look into home care for cancer patients at this difficult time.

Who supports cancer patients at home?

Cancer patients need to know that they aren’t alone in their diagnosis and there are plenty of support options for them. Beginning with…

General Practitioner (GP)

GPs are usually the first person involved in a cancer patient’s journey. They are the healthcare professional who should know their patient the most and fully understand their situation and lifestyle. It’s a GP’s role to be the liaison between the individual and other more specialised professionals, such as oncologists and cancer support nurses.

When an individual is dealing with cancer at home, GPs are responsible for regular reviews of their conditions and helping with any medical problems that arise. They also have the vital role of referring patients to a community service in their area to help support them with their diagnosis and treatment plan.

Community or district nurse

These nurses work in various places in the community, and they may visit cancer patients at home for help and support.

Their role is more involved than community healthcare assistants as they are qualified nurses, responsible for:  

  • Checking observations such as temperature, blood pressure and respiration (breathing).
  • Cleaning and dressing wounds.
  • Giving medication.
  • Giving injections or setting up and monitoring drips.
  • Helping to source mobility equipment, such as bed pans, wheelchairs or commodes.
  • Showing family members particular caring skills if needed.
  • Liaising with other healthcare professionals, such as GPs and palliative care nurses.
  • Offering emotional support for both the patient and their loved ones.

Community dietitian

Some cancer patients can have huge challenges with eating. Depending on they type of cancer, it can cause pain, discomfort and nausea that leaves the individual with a poor appetite and weight loss.

Cancer treatments can also cause digestion issues such as constipation and diarrhoea. Patients may be prone to mouth ulcers, blisters, swallowing difficulties and changes to taste – all reasons why cancer patients can avoid eating.

A community dietitian is extremely important when an individual needs support at home. Their role is to suggest different ways to deal with diet problems and ensure that the patient has as much energy as possible to deal with their illness.

Marie Curie or Macmillan nurses

Marie Curie and Macmillan nurses are a unique breed of healthcare professional. These nurses are specially trained in palliative care for cancer patients at home. Their main purpose is to offer tailored cancer home care to people in their own familiar environments to decrease distress and increase comfort.

If an individual needs end of life care, both Marie Curie and Macmillan nurses can be arranged by community nurses or GPs. They work carefully to each patient’s personalised care plan and prioritise their respect and dignity at all times.

Marie Curie and Macmillan nurses specialise in symptom management such as pain control, sickness relief and managing other symptoms. They are trained to administer injections and medication through a syringe driver and are able to give the all-important emotional support to every cancer patient and their family.

Social workers

Social workers work with a wide range of adults, children and families. This includes supporting cancer patients with their home situation. GPs and hospital nurses can refer people to social services if they feel they need some extra help.

For example, social services can arrange:

  • Care assistants – to come into the person’s home and help with washing and dressing.
  • Home help – to help with daily shopping or housework.
  • ‘Meals on Wheels’ service – to ensure the patient gets regular hot, nutritious meals.
  • Respite care – for any family members who may need a break from caring duties.
  • Help with finances – to make sure they are receiving all eligible benefits. They can also advise people on any grants that could be available to help them with extra bills.

Other community healthcare professionals

Cancer support and palliative care at home for cancer encompasses a multi-disciplinary healthcare team. It takes each professional working together to provide the best holistic treatment plan for every individual.

These include:

  • Physiotherapists – helping with rebuilding strength and mobility after treatment.
  • Speech and language therapists – some cancer treatments can affect the head and neck, causing speech to change.
  • Voluntary support groups – offering practical and emotional help through in-person, online and telephone cancer support.

Supportive care for your loved one

Home care isn’t something you have to deal with alone. It’s important that you have the support of healthcare professionals. If you’re thinking about live-in care or need palliative care for your family member, Ranger Home Care can help guide you through your options.

A family-run care provider, our carers live with your loved one in their home. They are trained to provide quality medical and emotional support, which helps individuals stay independent and improves their quality of life. We work as part of a multi-disciplinary healthcare team to make sure only the best, personalised care is offered to your loved one.

If you want to know more about the benefits of live-in care, Ranger Home Care is ready to help. Call 01252 850040 or email natalie@rangerhomecare.com today.

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