Palliative care is a specialised approach to care aimed at improving the overall quality of life for individuals confronting serious illnesses.
Most of our palliative residents join us when they first learn they have a life-limiting illness and often receive palliative care whilst still receiving other therapies or treatment. Palliative residents often choose to remain in our care when they transition into end-of-life care.
Beyond addressing physical symptoms, palliative care provides emotional support to assist residents and their families in navigating the forthcoming challenges. We engage in open and sensitive communication to discuss what to anticipate, enabling informed decisions about next steps. Unlike hospice care, which is specifically tailored at those with a terminal prognosis, palliative care is not restricted by life expectancy and can be incorporated at any stage of a serious illness, even during active treatment such as chemotherapy.
At the Future Care Group, our palliative care goals focus on improving quality of life. We often care for residents suffering from the symptoms and stress of serious illnesses such as cancer, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, and many more.
The aim of palliative care is to relieve suffering and provide optimum quality of life for residents and their families. The team will spend time with palliative residents and their families to help them match their treatment choices with their goals.
The palliative care team ensure everyone involved, across all disciplines, know and understand what has been agreed. This gives residents more autonomy over their care and will improve quality of life. Our care professionals provide an extra layer of support when it is needed the most.
Our healthcare professionals closely monitor palliative residents to offer comprehensive support for their physical and mental well-being. Tailoring palliative care to individual preferences allows us to provide comfort amid uncertainty.
Creating an environment that prioritises emotional well-being, respects autonomy, and cherishes personal identity is a profound privilege.
Examples of palliative care
Palliative care in our homes involves providing comprehensive support and comfort to residents with serious illnesses or life-limiting conditions. We aim to enhance the quality of life for both residents and their families by addressing physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.
Here are some examples of palliative care delivery:
Scenario: An elderly resident is diagnosed with advanced cancer and experiences significant pain.
Palliative care intervention: The care home team collaborates with a palliative care nurse and the resident’s primary care doctor to develop a personalised pain management plan. This may involve a combination of medications, physiotherapy, and alternative therapies like massage or acupuncture to help alleviate the pain.
Emotional and psychological support
Scenario: A resident is facing the end stages of a chronic illness, leading to anxiety and depression.
Palliative care intervention: Our team of qualified, award-winning carers will engage with the resident to help them reflect on positive life experiences, encourage participation in Namaste sessions, and provide access to counselling services and support groups where needed. Staff members receive specialised training to provide empathetic and compassionate care to residents during emotionally challenging times.
Scenario: A resident has expressed her desire to die at the care home surrounded by her loved ones.
Palliative care intervention: The care home team collaborates with the resident and her family to develop an end-of-life care plan. This includes discussions about advanced directives, preferences for medical interventions, and coordination with hospice services if needed. Our care providers always go above and beyond to ensure a resident’s end-of-life care plan is fulfilled.
Scenario: A resident’s family is struggling to cope with the terminal illness of their loved one.
Palliative care intervention: The care home team will organise regular family meetings to provide updates on the resident’s condition, address concerns, and involve family members in decision-making. Social workers or counsellors may also be available to support the family through the emotional challenges they are facing.
Scenario: A resident is nearing the end of his life, and comfort becomes a priority.
Palliative care intervention: The care home team ensures that they have a comfortable environment, with soft lighting, soothing music, and familiar objects. Regular repositioning, gentle massages, and assistance with personal care contribute to overall comfort and well-being. Our residents tend to frequent and particularly embrace our Namaste sessions at this stage.
Scenario: A resident is experiencing a loss of appetite and weight loss due to their terminal illness.
Palliative care intervention: The care home’s in-house chef collaborates closely with the resident to create a customised meal plan that includes their favourite foods and meets their nutritional needs. This helps improve their overall comfort and quality of life during this challenging time. Food and nutrition are a highlight for all our residents during their stay with us. When they arrive in our care, we spend time getting to know each resident, what they like and dislike. Cooking their favourite meals and snacks helps them to settle into the unfamiliar environment quickly and seamlessly and adds another moment of joy to their daily routine.
Our in-house chefs understand that when a resident is receiving palliative care, their tastes, nutritional needs, and preferences can be unpredictable. They may no longer enjoy foods they once did, or may require smaller, more frequent meals. If a resident is having problems with chewing or using a knife and fork, they may prefer soft foods or finger foods.
Our chefs are well trained and practiced at helping palliative residents overcome food and nutritional challenges so they can continue to enjoy their meals during this stage of their residency with us.
Respite care for family
Palliative care is not just for the elderly. We welcome younger residents into our care while they receive chemotherapy and other treatments.
Scenario: Mr. and Mrs. Smith are the primary caregivers for their ailing daughter, who resides in the care home.
Palliative care intervention: Recognising the toll on the family, we can offer respite care services, allowing the Smith’s to take short breaks while ensuring their daughter receives continuous care. This not only supports the family’s well-being but also promotes a more sustainable caregiving arrangement.
Scenario: A resident with a life-limiting illness, experiences anxiety and difficulty sleeping.
Palliative care intervention: Our care team incorporates holistic therapies such as art or music therapy, aromatherapy, Namaste, and mindfulness practices to address their emotional needs. These non-pharmacological interventions contribute to their overall comfort and sense of peace.
Dignity in care
Scenario: A resident expresses a desire to maintain her dignity and independence despite her declining health.
Palliative care intervention: The care home staff collaborates with the resident to establish a care plan that prioritises her autonomy. This may involve adapting daily routines, providing assistive devices, and respecting her choices regarding personal care, fostering a sense of control and dignity.
These examples highlight the multifaceted nature of palliative care in our care homes, demonstrating a commitment to addressing not only the physical aspects of an individual’s health but also their emotional, social, cultural, and spiritual needs. The goal is to provide a supportive and dignified environment for residents and their families during their stay with us.
Is palliative care the same as end-of-life care?
No, there are several differences between end-of-life and palliative care provisions although palliative care often transitions into end-of-life care.
In short, palliative care is available when you first learn you have a terminal illness. You can receive palliative care while you are still receiving other treatment for your condition. End-of-life care is a form of palliative care you receive when you are close to the end of your life.
Who can have palliative care?
After a terminal diagnosis, all individuals can start to receive palliative care. They can also have palliative care alongside ongoing treatments and medicines aimed at managing their illness. Many of our palliative residents with terminal cancer, for instance, begin to receive care whilst still undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
Residents with life-limiting conditions will receive palliative care until they transition into end-of-life care which means they are entering the final weeks/days of their life.
Palliative care at the Future Care Group also includes supporting the people close to our residents such as friends and family. As well as talking with our fully trained staff, we can connect them with other care professionals who can offer extra practical and emotional support.
How do I get palliative care?
As an existing Future Care Group resident, our healthcare professionals will be able to arrange palliative care for you. However, if you are not already in our care, you can talk to your local council’s adult social care services department, GP or district nurse, palliative care team, or your hospital doctor or nurse to find out what is available in your area.
Alternatively, you can book a visit to one of our homes and we can discuss options with you directly.
Is palliative care free?
NHS healthcare is free for UK residents. Several parts of palliative care are offered through the NHS, such as support from your GP or other health and social care professionals.
However, if you are receiving palliative care in a care home you may be eligible to pay for the cost of the care home. If you are eligible for local authority funding, part or all of the cost of the care home might be covered. But, if the care home costs more than the council is prepared to pay, you or your family will have to pay the difference.
For more information on care home costs, please refer to the following articles: