Partners in Care: Palliative’s Role in Assisted Living
Over three-quarters of a million seniors are currently living in assisted living facilities. Most of these residents have some chronic health condition that could benefit from the support of palliative care in assisted living facilities. That support can mean the difference between staying in the residence of their choice versus in-patient hospital care.
Palliative care manages the symptoms of any serious illness including cancer, diabetes, congestive heart failure, dementia and COPD.
"As we are involved in symptom management, we can address issues and document that the resident’s symptoms are being addressed for the assisted living facility. Two key areas where we can help are addressing chronic pain and weight loss," says Dr. Susan Coss, Medical Director for Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care.
"We also assist with behaviors in dementia patients. Behaviors can make care for that individual very challenging in any setting. Helping to control these symptoms can make life better for the staff, the patient, and fellow assisted living facility residents."
Late night runs to the hospital are worrisome and disruptive for both residents and their assisted living team. Crisis prevention through effective symptom management by the palliative care team in assisted living facilities reduces those 911 calls and hospitalizations. Coordination between care settings is crucial to avoiding hospital readmissions, and palliative care is the bridge between a patient's doctor and assisted living staff. The team ensures patient needs are met and that everyone supporting that patient is kept informed.
While more and more people are talking about end-of-life wishes, it is essential that those wishes are properly documented and communicated.
"One major benefit of palliative care in assisted living facilities is being there to spearhead the conversations about goals of care much sooner than they may normally come up," says Sherri Bickley, LMSW, M.Th., Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care Support Services Consultant. "This 'anticipatory guidance' can help keep people in place and ensure their wishes are being honored."
There's No Place Like Home
Assisted living facilities are home to their residents, and they hope to remain there for as long as possible. "Palliative care can keep a person in their current living situation longer," says Dr. Coss. "This may allow a person in assisted living to do that in a more independent environment for a longer period of time, reducing the number of transitions."
For more information on how Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care supports assisted living facilities, visit our website on understanding hospice or please call us at 1-888-564-3405.
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