Many families who have loved ones with terminal illnesses choose to discontinue hospital treatments in favor of hospice care. Hospice provides the privacy and accommodations to allow for comfort in the final days of life.
Many patients prefer to have their hospice care in their own home, or in the home of a loved one, instead of using a hospice care facility. Outfitting your home for hospice care takes some preparation, but with the right equipment and home health care providers, you can ensure that your family member enjoys the familiarity of home.
Here’s what you need to know about preparing your home to be a temporary hospice facility.
Preparing for All Needs
Hospice at home is only successful when both the caregiver and the patient can have their needs met.
For example, you need to make sure that medical staff are able to bring and store the right equipment for managing your loved one’s condition. You also will want to make sure that if you or another family member is providing some of the care, you have the supplies you need there at home.
Make sure you have a cabinet that locks for storing medications and injections. This cabinet keeps your loved one and other household members safe. Assess the living spaces; they should be large enough for at least two people to maneuver in. You may need to install larger doors on bathrooms to make it easier for a caregiver to assist someone through and help them bathe.
If possible, move large pieces of furniture out of hallways. Clear out clutter to make the home easier to clean and care for. You might need to put some furniture and belongings in storage to make the home more adaptable to hospice care.
Practice moving oxygen tanks with tubing around the house before your loved one arrives, since this can be harder than it looks.
You may need to install ramps over stairs for rolling equipment and hospital beds into the home. If your loved one is mobile, you should endeavor to keep all their needs on one level and make sure hallways are well lit to prevent slips and falls.
Rest and Sleep
A major focus of hospice care is rest and comfort. Many hospice patients will spend most of their time in bed due to weakness or injuries caused by their illness.
You will need a hospital bed to provide hospice care. Hospital beds make it easier for caregivers to provide medications, to wash patients who can’t be moved from bed, and to assist patients into seated or reclining positions. These beds can also be raised and lowered to make them more accessible to those in wheelchairs or for people who have reduced mobility.
You might have trouble fitting everything needed for care in a typical home bedroom. Consider using open living spaces (like a family room) to make sure the bed can be moved if needed and to make sure that large equipment, such as monitors or respirators, can be kept close to the bed. You want to make sure the bed can be accessed from all sides by the caregiver.
Beds should remain on the main floor of the home if possible. Stairs of any kind restrict accessibility for both the patient and the caregiver. Also, when a patient is shut away from the main activity of the home, it’s easy to miss requests for pain medication, food, water, or help getting to the restroom.
Daily Disturbances and Comforts
Finally, you’ll need to consider daily disturbances when outfitting the house. You may also want to find out what your loved one expects from hospice care. Do they want peace and quiet, or do they want to spend their time surrounded by the activity of the home with family members of all ages passing through, saying hello, and talking about their day?
Every situation is different, and you need to provide for their expectations. You might consider:
- Installing curtains around a bed. When the bed is in an open room, curtains allow for both access to the family and privacy when needed.
- Restricting visitors. Your family member may only want to see a handful of people during hospice time.
- Putting in dimmer switches for lights. Patients can be sensitive to light, and dimmer switches help to reduce the risk of disturbing rest with a bright ceiling light.
- Regulating the thermostat. Your loved one may always feel cold or warm. You’ll want to adjust the home temperature for their comfort. You can also bring in medical heated blankets to help.
Making your home a place for hospice care can be a challenge, but it can also mean a lot to your loved one, especially when you take their feelings and comforts into account.
Contact us at Corner Home Medical for more information on equipment needed for hospice care.