Palliative care project helps keep loved ones at home

A new community palliative care project is helping people be cared for and die at home.

A new community palliative care project is helping people be cared for and die at home.

Most palliative care patients prefer to be cared for at home and most want to die there, although less than 10 per cent end up doing this, according to the caring@home project.

The national project is producing resources for community service providers and health care professionals to help carers support palliative care patients in the home, including with the management of subcutaneous medicines.

Liz Callaghan

“The caring@home project is an important project that will assist in supporting people in the community to live and die in their own homes, ensuring optimal symptom control,” Palliative Care Australia CEO Liz Callaghan writes in a clinical viewpoint on the website.

“Australians, when asked, overwhemlmingly see themselves as being able to die in their own homes should their situation allow it.

“With the help of the caring@home project, awareness and information of home care and community-based palliative care services will help families and carers become aware of palliative care options that are available.”

It comes after research including the Queensland Caring Safely at Home project evaluation found carers who are supported with education and resources suited to their needs can safely and competently manage subcutaneous medicines.

Professor Reymond says community-based palliative patients often have to be transferred to inpatient units because their symptoms can’t be controlled at home and few have access to 24-hour professional community care.

The caring@home project aims to address that gap, says palliative medicine consultant and caring@home project director Professor Liz Reymond.

“Carers have reported a great deal of satisfaction from contributing to their loved one’s symptom control and that it impacts positively on their bereavement. Conversely they report feeling disempowered when unable to provide adequate symptom management.”

Comfort, not rescue for dying elderly

It comes as new research found hospitals and emergency staff are using aggressive and invasive procedures to prolong the lives of elderly patients admitted to ICU.

The UNSW research, published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, reviewed the records of 733 patients and found they had been subjected to procedures like intubation, transplants and painful resuscitation attempts.

“If hospital staff were trained for earlier recognition of when death is inevitable, patients could be spared such aggressive treatments and allowed a less traumatic and more dignified end,” lead researcher Adjunct Associate Professor Magnolia Cardona said.

The caring@home website will provide access to resources about the program as well as information, research, expert viewpoints and journal articles. The website is currently operating but full education and training resources will be available from November.

The project has federal government funding and is being conducted by a consortium of carers groups and health professionals led by the Brisbane South Palliative Care Collaborative.

Visit the caring@home website here.

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