Building connection and providing tools for better care
Timely access to palliative care can both improve quality and extend length of life for individuals with a life-limiting illness. This care also provides necessary support to caregivers, primarily family and friends. But, without a background in health care, navigating the palliative care system can be too much to manage.
During the initial assessment visit by the hospice staff from Carefor Hospice Cornwall, clients and their caregivers receive an abundance of information. Angela Labelle, Hospice Manager, explains that it can be overwhelming and cause crucial details to be missed. Furthermore, COVID-19 has created many new barriers to providing consistent communication with clients and their families while they are still at home.
When Angela approached the OutCare Foundation with her team’s plan for a Comfort Kit Pilot, we were happy to help with a $5,000 grant. The pilot adds a second, automatically scheduled in-home visit at which clients are given a Comfort Kit. It enables hospice staff to identify and support client and family health care needs/concerns earlier on in their journey.
At the second visit, hospice staff complete an additional clinical assessment while explaining, educating and demonstrating the Comfort Kit items. Comfort Kits include items that offer support at home for the caregivers and clients and provide additional information and resources to assist in the navigation of the health care system. The visit also facilitates further conversations about goals of care and end-of-life concerns and questions.
Angela reports that this second clinical assessment provides an opportunity to discuss community programs in greater detail, build stronger relationship between clients and hospice staff, as well as create new opportunities to reassess client needs.
Promising Early Results
· 25 clients have received a second visit in the first three months of the Comfort Kit program
· 8 clients have been admitted to hospice as a result of the second visit. The visit either increased the client’s comfort with being admitted or revealed that patient was in crisis
· Carefor Hospice Cornwall community programs have higher enrollment
Across the board, response to the Comfort Kit Pilot from clients and their caregivers has been positive. A family member commented “the care package was life-saving!”
The Comfort Kit is full of useful supplies and the opportunity to learn how to use them gave caregivers and patients peace of mind.
Tools for Better Care
Comfort Kits are tailored to the individual’s diagnosis, prognosis and family needs. Contents may include:
· Hospice staff role description and contact navigation tool
· Contacts for current healthcare system
· Personal care items such as moisture spray for mouth care, soaker pads and bathing wipes
· Caregiver assessment resources for self-care