It is often assumed that, for someone with a terminal illness, the need for palliative care does not arise until their final few weeks of life. In reality, palliative care is actually the term given to the treatment and care provided to people from the moment they are first diagnosed with an illness from which they are not expected to recover.
While hospices are best known for admitting people in their last weeks of life and providing them with both medical care and emotional support, many hospices now become involved with the seriously ill at a much earlier stage and are able to offer some support in their own homes. To a large extent this is a response to the fact that there are simply not enough beds available in hospices to meet the demand for palliative care, particularly for those in the last stages of a terminal illness.
Spending their final days in their own home
While hospices undoubtedly make a wonderful job of caring for the terminally ill, the fact is that most people would still prefer to spend their final days in their own home if this can be arranged. This is particularly the case where they still have a spouse or partner who would like to spend as much time as possible with them and perhaps share in providing the care their loved one needs.
Macmillan Cancer Support has found, for example, that 73% of the 157,000 cancer patients who die every year in England and Wales would prefer to spend their final days at home. However, data from the Office of National Statistics shows that more than 50% of these patients (over 80,000) die in hospital and a further 17% (nearly 27,000) in a hospice, with only 27% (just over 42,000) dying in their own home, with the remaining 5% passing away in care homes.
As Mike Hobday of Macmillan says: “It is a tragedy that, each year, tens of thousands of cancer patients are not able to get their dying wish – to die in their own home, surrounded by their loved ones – because they do not have the support they need.”
Palliative care at home – offering an alternative to end of life care in a hospice
If someone close to you has a terminal illness and would prefer to remain at home, Care at Home can help you make it happen. We have been caring for people in their final months of life since 1990 and all our carers receive regular training in palliative care.
Our palliative care services
We will provide your loved one with round-the-clock personal care and we will also help you obtain assistive devices for them from Social Services (for example, a riser recliner chair, a hospital bed and a hoist). Most importantly of all, we will help you engage a team of Macmillan or other specialist palliative care nurses. Apart from their overall nursing skill, they play a vital role in palliative care by managing any medication prescribed for pain relief.
For further information on our palliative care and our live-in care services, please select the following: