End-of-life care at home includes treatment and support for people with life-limiting illnesses. It empowers people who need the care to maintain a good quality of life that’s as independent and active as possible in their last months of life.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the benefits, options, and decisions you can make when it comes to end-of-life care at home.
What is end-of-life care?
End-of-life care is an important part of palliative care and offers a supportive approach to people nearing the end of their life.
This type of care is typically provided during a person’s last year of life. It aims to help people live as well as they can and to die with dignity.
A common myth exists that end-of-life care can only be given in hospices or care homes. But this isn’t true. The most popular setting to receive end-of-life care is in the comfort and security of a person’s own home.
The four principles of end-of-life care
According to Macmillan, the four key principles for end-of-life care are:
- Sensitive communication: this makes sure that the person and family understand what is happening and discusses previous care plans that have been made. Cultural and religious needs are continually respected. If discussions around DNACPR (Do Not Resuscitate) or the place of death have not taken place, they are prioritised. Significant changes in the person’s condition should be reported to the family.
- Comfort and dignity: while there may be signs that the person is dying, the diagnosis must be made by the team caring for the person. Attempts to reverse any reversible causes of decline must have been considered or attempted. Non-essential medication should be discontinued, and care goals focus on ensuring comfort and dignity in the dying phase.
- Holistic approach: where a continuous review of the person’s symptoms and needs uses a holistic approach to care. This helps to understand a person’s physical, spiritual, emotional and social needs. Family should be offered the chance to understand what to expect when their loved one is dying.
- Support for family and loved ones: family and loved ones must be supported during this stage and after the person has died. If relatives are not supported or the person is perceived not to have a ‘good death’, the consequences of this can be far-reaching.
“End-of-life care includes physical, emotional, social, and spiritual support for patients and their families. The goal of end-of-life care is to control pain and other symptoms so the patient can be as comfortable as possible.”
End-of-life versus palliative care: what’s the difference?
Palliative and end-of-life care have a lot in common. Both types of care are for people living with a serious illness and aim to improve their quality of life.
The main difference between palliative care and end-of-life care is the time a person has left to live. End-of-life care is for people diagnosed with a terminal illness who have six months or less to live. Comparatively, palliative care is for people at any stage of serious illness, even as early as the day of diagnosis, who are still pursuing curative treatment.
Some of the differences are shown in this table:
|Palliative care||End-of-life care|
|Improves life quality for people with a serious illness.||For those entering the last phase of their life.|
|Offered at any stage of an illness.||Given with a prognosis of around six months or less.|
|Given alongside curative treatment.||Excludes curative treatment.|
|Includes symptom management.||Comfort care during the end of life.|
Certainly, a team of professional carers deliver both and they can work alongside your regular doctors or specialists to provide an added layer of support and expertise.
What options are available for end-of-life care?
The options for end-of-life care include:
- Live-in care: offers a specially trained live-in carer to provide support each day according to a person’s needs. Many people prefer to spend their final days in the comfort of their own homes.
- Care Home: supports a person’s daily care such as helping with washing, dressing and providing meals. Some care homes provide skilled nursing care and are called nursing homes.
- Hospice: hospices can offer ongoing nurse, medical, and healthcare support.
- Hospital: sometimes, end-of-life care is provided in hospitals. Often this is for acute care. However, staff endeavour to provide comfortable symptom management and end-of-life care when it is needed.
The Live-in Care Hub conducted a survey in 2017 and found that 97% of people given a choice, would prefer to carry on living in their own home with the support of a carer. Live-in care is becoming better understood and popular as a real alternative to moving into a residential setting.
Why do people choose end-of-life care at home?
There are many life-enriching benefits to being at home with a highly trained carer dedicated to your loved one’s wellbeing. It helps take away the upset and worry of moving into a care or nursing home.
Life in a care home can be restrictive and removes a lot of choices. For example, when you eat your meals when you have visitors, and when you socialise. Live-in care is different. Cared for people can continue to live with freedom and choice.
With live-in care, you have a dedicated carer who lives with you and builds a comforting human relationship who is there to help you throughout the day and night. A live-in carer will adapt to the specific needs of their client to make their end-of-life as comfortable and supported as possible.
Mumby’s Live-in Care
Since 2002, Mumby’s has been providing outstanding, personal, and affordable care. We are passionate experts who specialise in live-in care. Our family looks after your family and with carers who connect and go the extra mile. So you get so much more than a care package.
Our fabulous end-of-life team were shortlisted for the ‘End-of-life Team of the Year’ in the Caring UK Awards 2022.