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What is Palliative Home Care?

By Debra Durkee
Updated May 17, 2024
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Palliative home care is a service provided by certain organizations which allows an individual with a terminal illness to remain in his or her own home while still receiving the care and medical attention needed. Done when there is nothing more that can be accomplished in a hospital setting, it allows the individual to be moved back into the home, where palliative care workers assist in day-to-day activities. This can include overseeing medication and medical equipment as well as providing companionship for the ill individual and support for friends and family.

A palliative home care service can provide a wide range of services for an ill individual, based on the needs of the person and the availability of friends and family. It often includes some kind of medical support, such as the administration of drugs, pain medications, or intravenous injections. An individual may be on a breathing apparatus or kidney dialysis machine, which a palliative home care worker would be able to monitor.

The medical background of a palliative home care specialist also means that he or she is able to monitor the condition of the individual. If pain medications or other treatments need to be changed or managed, other medical professionals can typically be consulted in a group effort to provide the best home care possible. For those who decide to live out their last days at home, palliative home care will often be there at the end.

In addition to medical services, palliative home care also means keeping the individual comfortable in the home surroundings. This can mean performing everyday tasks such as light housework, meal preparation, and shopping. It can also include keeping a sanitary environment, as well as bathing the individual and providing any needed assistance with toilet facilities.

Even though the individual may be surrounded by friends and family, chronic or untreatable illness is a stressful time. Part of palliative home care is to provide emotional support for all involved, including those close to the ill individual. The service provides friends and family with information on how to cope with what their loved one is going through, and support can sometimes be as simple as listening to someone who understands. When there is a primary caregiver, whether a friend or a family member, a home care specialist may step in to provide care for an afternoon or evening to allow the caregiver time away.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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