Guide to end-of-life care at home

Written by Ranger Home Care
22 March 2024

Caring for someone at the end of their life is a reality for many people. And it’s a topic filled with emotions. It can be distressing, extremely difficult and uncomfortable to talk about. But it’s essential that anyone who is receiving palliative services at home is given the highest quality of care.

This guide aims to outline ways in which your loved one can receive gentle, considerate and professional end-of-life care at home.

What is end-of-life care?

End-of-life care at home, or palliative care, is a type of special support for people who are in the last phase of their life due to serious illness. It’s not about curing the illness, but about making the person comfortable, reducing pain and helping with any emotional or practical problems they might have. The goal of this care is to make the person’s last days as good as possible, respecting their wishes and needs.

Palliative care can be given in different places like hospitals, nursing homes and especially at the person’s home. The team providing this care usually includes doctors, nurses, carers, sometimes chaplains or church workers and social workers – all working together to help the person and their family cope during this tough time.

The importance of care at home

Having end-of-life care at home is beneficial for people who are very ill and their families. It allows them to be in a place they know and love, instead of having care home palliative care, in a hospice or in a hospital. This can make them feel less stressed and more comfortable, which in turn will be positive on their well-being.

When palliative care is carried out at home, it can be personalised to what the individual and their family need. Having their favourite things around them, resting in their own bed and spending time with their pets can make their last days more meaningful.

Also, when the care happens at home, families can be more involved and spend more time together. This can make everyone feel better and help create special memories.

Help in managing symptoms

When someone might need end-of-life care, they often show signs of:

  • Pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Feeling very tired
  • Not wanting to eat
  • Confusion
  • Feeling upset or scared
  • Anxiety
  • Pulling away from others
  • Body changes, like incontinence

End-of-life care is extremely beneficial when an individual suffers from these types of symptoms. This care aims to provide relief from the discomfort and emotional stress, ensuring that the person’s final days are spent in dignity and peace.

Preparing the home environment

In simple terms, end-of-life care is about helping someone nearing the end of their life feel as comfortable and supported as possible, both physically and emotionally. So, how do you do that exactly?

It’s important to create a supportive and comfortable space by:

  • Having the necessary medical equipment and supplies
  • Adjusting the home to make any mobility easier
  • Having room for the care team to work easily and safely
  • Surrounding the person with familiar and comforting items – for example, photos of family, using favourite blankets, positioning them near a window to see their garden or street
  • Organising any visitors that the person would like to see, for example, local minister, old friends, grandchildren etc.

Having a multidisciplinary care team

Looking after a person with palliative care needs at home might require a team of different healthcare workers. Having the correct team is essential to the person’s care in their final days.

This multi-disciplinary team can include doctors, nurses, social workers and sometimes spiritual advisors like a minister or pastoral carer from the local church or community. The team role is to work together to help the individual needing care, by communicating effectively and each one doing their part.

Doctors and nurses focus on reducing pain and other physical problems to make the person comfortable. Social workers support the individual and their family emotionally, helping them deal with how they’re feeling and practical things like paperwork. Physiotherapists help with mobility and keeping the person as independent as possible, making changes to the home if needed. Spiritual advisors offer comfort and talk about any spiritual matters.

When an individual gets care at home from this kind of multi-disciplinary team, they can stay in their home where they feel safe and comfortable. This is likely to help improve their quality of life and respect their wishes during their last days. It’s very important that the person’s needs are looked after in a compassionate and personal way by people they feel comfortable with.

The emotional impact

Palliative care at home can clearly be tough emotionally. People may feel anxious about what’s happening and sad about not being able to do things themselves. Families can feel upset at seeing the health of their loved one in decline and not being able to make it better.

Family members might disagree about how to help. Even though palliative care helps with pain and comfort, being so close to someone who is very unwell can make sadness and loss feel more prevalent.

Having members of a healthcare team involved in home-based end-of-life care can offer comfort and support to family members when they find things challenging.

Enhance quality of life with live-in care

Ensure your loved one receives the compassionate, specialised care they deserve, right in the comfort of their own home with Ranger Home Care.

Our live-in carers are expertly trained in elderly care, understanding and addressing the unique needs of each individual. From physical assistance to emotional support, our carers are there to help maintain independence and enhance quality of life.

If you’d like to find out more about what live-in care involves, check out our blog post, What does a live-in carer do?.

Don’t wait to provide the best care for your loved one. Contact Ranger Home Care today on 01252 850040 or email natalie@rangerhomecare.com today.

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