End of life careEnd of life care often means the treatment of symptoms and can extend to counselling and emotional support. End of life care, or palliative care, refers to professional support given to those who are terminally ill and their families. This support often involves the management of medications that will minimise symptoms, without the hope of curing the underlying condition. Speak to a Care Advisor today to find out how we can help provide exceptional end of life care.
Nothing can erase the pain of facing the loss of someone you love, but end of life care can help support the whole family and allow your loved one to pass on in comfort and dignity.
The term end of life care can seem negative and final, however it’s important to realise that receiving this kind of care doesn’t mean that death is imminent or that the medical teams have given up on your loved one. At this challenging time, accessing care can be a very positive step. There will be the support to manage symptoms and maintain comfort and wellbeing, which will maximise joy and fulfilment.
What does end of life care mean?
End of life care is the support and treatment offered to people who are likely to pass on within the next 12 months. This can include people who are facing death within a few days or hours, those who have advanced incurable diseases and those whose age, frailty and medical conditions mean they are expected to die within a year. If you or a loved one are in need of end of life or palliative care, our Care Advisors can work with you to develop a care plan and source a vetted carer matched to your requirements.
Seeking end of life care can seem like a negative step. But accessing support can make a real difference to the quality of life both for the individual affected and for those who love them. The National Council for Palliative Care says that end of life care:
Helps all those with advanced, progressive, incurable illness to live as well as possible until they die. It enables the supportive and palliative care needs of both patient and family to be identified and met throughout the last phase of life and into bereavement. It includes management of pain and other symptoms and provision of psychological, social, spiritual and practical support.
From that definition, it’s clear that end of life care involves careful control of pain and other symptoms, but that it also extends far beyond this. It is a uniquely frightening and stressful time and the whole family should be supported practically, socially and psychologically. This can mean assistance with matters like feeding, bathing and toileting, help to come to terms with the diagnosis and the space to make the most of the time you have left. When the time comes, your loved one should be allowed to die in peace in the place of their choice.
If you or your loved one is in a position to need palliative care, you no doubt have a huge amount on your mind. You’re probably wondering what options are available to you, what support system you can hope to build and, not least, whether or not you'll be able to afford it.
The good news is that there are a lot of options out there, and support is available.
What does palliative care mean?
Firstly, a brief introduction: what is palliative care?
Palliative care is a key component of end of life care. It is care that can alleviate a problem without treating the underlying cause. Palliative care can ease the distress and discomfort of people with incurable cancers, progressive neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis and advanced dementia. It can soothe symptoms like nausea, constipation, sleeplessness and pain allowing your loved one to rest or enjoy activities with the family.
It’s about improving quality of life from a mental, physical, social and spiritual perspective, and is relevant at any age and for any serious illness.
End of life care is much the same, but specifically refers to those in their final year of life.
How does palliative care work?End of life care, or palliative care is a specific part of what's called supportive care. Supportive care should be integrated into diagnosis and treatment, and covers:
- Self help and support
- The giving of information
- Psychological support
- Symptom control
- Complementary therapies
- Spiritual support
Palliative care is given by those who provide day-to-day care and by specialist consultants and nurses. Those providing day-to-day care assess the needs of the patient and their families, meet those needs where they can, and refer to specialists where appropriate.
What does palliative care do?
End of life care aims to help the patient and their family to adjust. It sounds morbid, but it's surprisingly life-affirming. Death is a natural part of life and there's nothing unusual about it. Palliative care will help the patient and family to focus on their psychological and spiritual wellbeing, while easing the pain and symptoms that might cause discomfort. End of life care helps those coming to the end, to remain active, and helps everyone involved to have a healthy emotional response to the situation.
It's never an easy time. It's likely that feelings will be turbulent and sometimes confused, and having a professional involved can help to clear the tensions and strains that will inevitably arise.
How much does palliative care cost?
As is true across the care sector, it’s difficult to give an exact answer as costs depend on a number of factors.
By its very nature, palliative care is holistic, so costs will depend on how many people are involved, and what speciality may be required. It will also depend on where you receive palliative care – whether at home, in a hospital, in a care home, or in a hospice. The average hospice stay lasts around 14 days, at a cost of up to £400 a day. Should you or your loved one wish to spend the remaining time at home, live-in palliative care can be a considerably cheaper option.
Planning end-of-life care
Planning ahead is important to ensure that your loved one gets the care that best meets their needs. It’s vital to consider practical and financial matters like Power of Attorney and wills and to think about the sort of support they would prefer towards the end of life.
They don’t have to formalise these opinions, but an advanced care plan can ensure that the healthcare team fully understand their wishes, it can also help your loved one process their thoughts and feelings. Remember, the plan is written on paper, not set in stone, they can edit it whenever and however they need.It’s worth considering these questions:
- Where you would they like to receive care?
- Are there any treatments that they would prefer not to have?
- Would they like resuscitation if their breathing stops or if they suffer a cardiac arrest?
How to find palliative care
It can seem like a lonely time but there should be a team of professionals available to offer support. The problem is knowing who to ask and where to go. Too many people don’t want to be a bother or a burden but you should not have to struggle alone.
If your loved one is in a nursing home, hospital or hospice:
The nursing staff should point you in the right direction. There will be a palliative care team available to provide expert assistance, they should help you access the support you need whether it is medical, practical or spiritual.
If your loved one is at home:
The first port of call should be your GP and the district nurse in your area. The fact that your loved one is at home doesn’t mean that all the care is down to you. You can access a hospice at home service. Ask your GP, oncologist or medical consultant to refer you. A specialist team will work together with your doctor to ensure that all their needs are met, in the comfort of their own home.
Home carers can provide a helping hand with the trickier tasks at a time that fits with your schedule. From cleaning to help with complex care matters like incontinence, tube feeding or a ventilation, carer packages can be tailored to suit your individual needs. With help, you can focus on enjoying the time you have left together instead of being burdened with chores.
If you are frightened about the prospect of funding care, then phone your local social services department and ask for a care assessment. Financial support may be available for you to spend on the care you choose. People who have health needs such as a terminal illness may be entitled to fully-funded NHS continuing healthcare. This can be received in a hospital, hospice or at home, according to your loved one’s wishes.
Our goal is to provide care at a price you can afford while paying our carers a wage they deserve. Care agencies often charge a high commission rate, while paying their carers minimum wage, all to maximise their profit margins. Instead, we make the most of technology to keep our administration costs low, enabling us to give everyone a better deal.
At hometouch we help you to find the best home carer for your needs so that you or your loved one can remain at home for as long as possible in comfort and peace.