donderdag 18 augustus 2016

Carers: 3 Tips for Improving End of Life Care for Loved Ones

As a family caregiver you will eventually need to think about how you will care your loved one in their last months, weeks and days – and whether they will need to be moved to a hospital, a hospice or other care facility. After 15 years as an Aged Care Specialist Social Worker, I understand that most of us prefer that our family member spends their last chapter in a peaceful home-like setting surrounded by the people they love - but that many carers are not aware of what services are available to ensure that this can happen.

Barbara Moran’s article in the NY Times:  Not Just a Death, A System Failure ( is based on the four months she watched her mother slowly die from chronic liver failure.  Her mother spent four months in a hospital ICU before the decision to stop all active treatment was made and she was allowed to die.  Barbara Moran is the managing editor and senior science writer at Boston University:

In Feb 2016, (the same month that Barbara Moran’s article was published), Jennifer L. Boen’s article: Health Sentinel: Lack of Knowledge about Palliative Care Limiting its Benefits to Patients, Hospitals ( – was published on Boen writes about the benefits of palliative care, which can be started in conjunction with curative treatments, and continue to the person’s death, even if the person is admitted into a residential hospice setting. She also states that there is a lack of understanding about palliative care by health care professionals, resulting in too late or non-existent referrals for people who would benefit from it. Jennifer Boen is an award winning medical and social sciences writer:

Understanding the difference between palliative and hospice care ensures that you know what is appropriate at what stage in the care journey, and knowing that these services are available to help you care for your loved one as they reach the end of their life is a great start. Further by following these 3 steps you can ensure that the right help is in place to allow your family member the death that they desire and deserve

  • Communication and Planning:  talk to your loved one about what they want and ensure that their wishes are documented and discussed with all health professionals.
  • Research:  Research what palliative and hospice care services are available in your local area including admission process, wait-lists, costs and limitations of service.
  • Advocate:  Be the advocate for your family member by clearly communicating their needs, likes, dislikes, - to confirm that the service they receive is the perfect fit for who they are.

Although dying may be inevitable, careful planning and the right help can ensure that your loved one makes this final journey, pain-free and surrounded by the warmth of the people and things they treasure the most. 

(this post was written as part of an assessment for MOOC3 Social Media Marketing - a Coursera Northwestern University online course that I am currently enrolled in)