Hospice Care Provided in the Home Setting Keeps Families Together
CATEGORY: Medical and Clinical
PUBLICATION: Clinical Connections
When a family member is diagnosed with limited life expectancy, he or she often has a strong desire to spend the final days in the comfort of home. Comfort, touch and togetherness are among the key elements made possible by the Hospice of the Western Reserve. Yet these same principles are also in direct opposition to the distance and separation asked of all healthcare providers during a pandemic.
Despite these challenges, HWR’s clinical teams continue to provide holistic end-of-life support and symptom management in the home setting during the pandemic by incorporating process modifications and technology to reduce the risk of exposure to patients, families, and hospice staff. In fact, more than 97% of all hospice care provided by HWR is in the home or community setting.
In-person visits are still conducted by the nurse during the admissions process, and whenever they are needed to manage uncontrolled symptoms. Hospice nursing assistants (HNAs) visit the home to help with the patient’s personal care and the tasks of daily living. During visits to the family’s home, the nurse and HNA follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, wearing a mask, gown and gloves.
Telehealth capabilities allow HWR’s nurse, social worker and spiritual care coordinator to conduct video-based visits and maintain regular weekly contact while maintaining social distancing protocols. Additional services, such as social work, spiritual care, art and music therapy can be offered remotely through video visits or telephone check-ins.
Hospice support staff - available 24 hours a day through a help line - are skilled at managing calls and providing appropriate care. If an emergent situation arises such as a new uncontrolled symptom, the hospice team will assess how to manage the circumstances, which may involve a hospice home visit.
Virtual tools allow HWR team members to stay connected to coordinate care when nursing homes, extended care facilities and hospitals must limit the number of visitors in their buildings because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Regular telehealth contact enables the hospice home care team to provide caregiver education, ongoing guidance on medication and symptom control and spiritual and emotional support during an incredibly difficult time.