Palliative care at home can improve quality of life: Joan Hanson

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Guest columnist Joan Hanson is Director of Western Reserve Navigator, a community-based palliative care program offered by the Hospice of the Western Reserve. The program received the national Circle of Life Award from the American Hospital Association. Hanson is a member of the Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing Association and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. She is a certified hospice and palliative care nurse.

Dealing with health can be difficult, especially when dealing with ongoing symptoms of advanced heart disease, cancer, or another serious diagnosis.

The good news is that highly effective palliative care is available from certified specialists to help adults feel comfortable and maintain greater functionality and independence.

This Western Reserve program hospice is making a significant difference in our community.

100 percent of the patients and families we surveyed in 2021 said they would likely recommend it.

Support services that treat troubling symptoms and help reduce or avoid emergency room visits can be provided in private homes, assisted living communities, and nursing homes through Western Reserve Navigator, a non-hospice palliative care program.

Western Reserve Navigator (WRN) supplements the medical care a person already receives. Think of it as an extra layer of support. Those enrolled can receive palliative (comfort) care earlier in the course of their serious illness to manage their pain, shortness of breath, or other problematic symptoms.

They can continue to receive curative treatments and treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation prescribed by their GP.

Participants can remain in the program indefinitely – as long as necessary. The WRN care team works with their GPs or specialists to keep them comfortable and off the hospital.

The team consists of social workers, advanced caregivers, a volunteer coordinator and trained volunteers. Volunteers provide accompaniment and often serve as a second pair of eyes and ears to alert the team to any concerns that may arise between visits.

Our focus is on improving a person’s quality of life. For example, one of our WRN patients had multiple serious illnesses. We were able to help her maintain her independence and achieve a dramatically improved quality of life by successfully treating her symptoms in her own home.

In fact, she even wrote a book during that time, something she’s always wanted to do.

WRN also offers many supportive services, including medication management, coordinating care with the individual’s physician, and liaison with other helpful community resources such as transportation and meal delivery programs.

The team participates in discussions about treatment goals with the patient and family and helps prepare living wills. A nurse is available by phone 24 hours a day to answer patient questions or address any needs that may arise.

There are no fees for the social worker and the voluntary services. If medical services are required, such as B. a visit from the Advanced Practice Nurse, the insurance will be charged. WRN accepts Medicare, Medicaid and most other commercial insurance.

During the initial visit and assessment, the team will discuss the patient’s specific insurance and any co-payments for medical services. If financial assistance is needed, a WRN financial advisor can help create an affordable plan.

For more information about the program, call the Hospice of the Western Reserve at 800-707-8922 or visit the website: hospicewr.org.

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