A hospice comfort kit, commonly called a Hospice Emergency Kit or E-Kit, is a small supply of medications kept in the home so that they will be available to rapidly treat symptoms that may occur in a patient with a terminal illness. Knowing how to use your hospice emergency kit is an important part of the hospice education a nurse will provide when a patient begins hospice services.
What’s in a hospice comfort kit?
While the medications included in a hospice comfort kit can vary based on the patient’s specific needs, most of them include medications designed to address four symptoms that can arise or worsen unexpectedly. These symptoms include:
Pain – One of the main goals of hospice is to ensure that the patient is not in pain. In order to quickly address pain, the hospice comfort kit typically includes medication to manage it.
Anxiety – In addition to controlling pain, another goal of hospice is to keep terminally ill patients comfortable. This means being able to control anxiety and agitation. A hospice comfort kit will have medication to assist in this.
Nausea – Nausea is very common at end of life, particularly with cancer patients. The hospice comfort kit typically includes medication that can assist in controlling nausea and vomiting.
Increased secretions – As a patient approaches end of life, their body begins to slow down. Many patients lose the ability to clear respiratory secretions. The build-up of these secretions in the throat can lead to a gurgling sound that is commonly referred to as “the death rattle.” While this does not cause the patient any pain, it can be difficult for family members to hear. The hospice comfort kit or emergency kit will typically include medication to reduce respiratory secretions if needed.
How to Use Your Hospice Comfort Kit
The hospice comfort kit is designed to be used when a new symptom emerges or the current symptoms worsen, requiring an immediate response. It is stored in the refrigerator and should only be used under the direction of a hospice nurse.
If you believe there has been a change in the patient’s symptoms, you should contact your hospice care team immediately. If medication needs to be administered from the hospice comfort kit, a nurse will direct you on what medication to use, the correct dosage, and how to administer the medication.
Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care staff are available 24 hours a day to offer care and provide information and guidance. When a patient begins hospice care, all hospice prescriptions and hospice medical equipment is provided at no cost to the patient. To learn more about the care we provide, please call 1-888-564-3405.
If you found this information helpful, please share it with your network and community.
Copyright © 2018 Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care. All rights reserved.