Supporting Families and Caregivers
- In order to provide good care at home, family and carers need support, which may include:
- Information about the patient’s medical condition, what to expect and how to help with symptoms
- Practical information and skills for looking after a person who is deteriorating
- Aids and equipment to help nurse the person at home
- Encouragement to take breaks and care for their own health and wellbeing, which may include some kind of planned respite
- A crisis plan and contact information for after hours advice
- Reassurance that they are doing a good job, and help with decision making if they are unable to continue their caregiving role.
- Talk with the family about the implications of calling an ambulance, and consider strategies to avoid unwanted and inappropriate treatment, or transfer of a dying person to an emergency department.
- A letter or an ambulance plan confirming the palliative goals of care should be provided
- The ambulance plan may also be used to authorise treatment for a predictable crisis (eg, pain, bleeding, dyspnoea).
- Consider alerting your palliative care service of the possible need for an inpatient palliative care bed as a back-up. If admission is needed, this may avoid the need to go through an emergency department.