Having a family member facing his or her final days is a challenging experience for anyone. It is difficult to juggle the responsibility of providing medical and practical care to a loved one. To plan ahead how to manage this stage, families can work closely with healthcare professionals or a team to create a palliative care program for the dying person.
Singapore is one of the countries in the world that faces a demographic shift toward a more ageing population. According to Asian Development Bank and NPTD, the country’s population is predicted to be 25% aged 65 and above by 2030. This shift brought a more holistic view of healthcare, services, policies, and laws in Singapore’s system.
Due to the increase in the elderly population, and the decline in the younger people that can take care of them, the approach of Long-Term Care (LTC) is used. For patients who are living with a life-limiting illness such as late-stage cancer, or a neurodegenerative disease, Stay-in Care is utilised. End-of-life care is provided by facilities like an inpatient hospice or a nursing home.
End-of-life care is the practical support provided to patients approaching death. Though this concept is new and a taboo topic, it is a continuously growing practise in medical care in Singapore. It aims to provide care, comfort, and optimise each person’s quality of life beyond their medical needs – including spiritual, mental, and emotional needs.
Local palliative care service can be provided in facilities such as hospices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, or nursing homes. These facilities usually house several patients who receive palliative care. In these facilities, the nursing and other staff are on-site 24/7 complete with the appropriate medical equipment and supplies. Meals and assistance in daily activities are also provided.
Palliative care services are considered to be both patient and family-centred care. Though a terminal illness can directly affect the patient, its effects also affect the family. The patient and the family are engaged in transition as they live in a critical condition. Families must take part and provide support in the patients’ end-of-life care.
More than the financial support that families can provide, it is essential that the patients also receive reassurance and love from their families. Patients in a palliative care facility or hospice will benefit well when their loved ones visit them often, lend a listening ear, provide comfort, and take an active role in providing day-to-day care.
Respecting a patient’s autonomy, they have the right to express their wishes regarding where they want to receive care and where they want to die. According to the NHS, patients can choose to receive care at home, in a hospice, hospital, or elderly home care Singapore, depending on the patient’s needs and preferences.
By receiving care at home, the patients can be taken care of by their families with the practical help of a professional palliative care team who is an expert in managing symptoms, in palliative care, and in respite care. The caregiver can be a stay-in or a 24/7 on-call healthcare team composed of health professionals like a private nurse Singapore, a doctor, and social care professionals composed of social workers. Patients with a serious illness choose to stay at home to spend their last moments with their loved ones.
Palliative care is the specialised care given to people with a severe illness. Palliative care aims to alleviate the symptoms and helps optimise the quality of life as one battles a life-threatening disease. Palliative care is also a supportive care that helps the families as they go through the life-changing effect of severe disease. A person can receive care focused on their choices and wishes through palliative care.
End-of-life care is a part of Palliative care that aims to provide curative treatment that supports the goal of alleviating symptoms, especially addressing the pain. The purpose of end-of-life care is to help the patients live their last moments as comfortably as possible, providing pain management and spiritual, mental, and emotional support.
Many make the mistake of interchanging End-of-Life and Palliative care. Though they both aim to provide care and comfort to anyone suffering from a serious disease, Palliative care can be provided to patients of any age receiving medical treatments that experiences suffering due to their incurable illness.
End-of-Life Care continues to provide medical treatment that the patients need to alleviate the symptoms of their diseases, especially pain. Addressing the symptoms provides comfort and, therefore, improvement of quality of life.
Depending on the type of End-of-Life care that the patient wishes to receive, whether at home, in a hospice, or care home, it is still a lot cheaper than the general hospitalisation costs. There is also free hospice care provided to some eligible patients.
A more holistic approach to disease management is provided to patients receiving end-of-life care. It includes symptom management, hospice care inclusive of physical, psychosocial, and spiritual benefits, and bereavement support for the patient’s family member and loved one. There will still be regular doctor check-ups to update the medications and management.
The experience of death may be different for every person. It could be sudden death or a prolonged and gradual deterioration of the body. For the older adults who suffer the physical and emotional pain of having a chronic and incurable disease, it is best to know how to provide comfort during the time surrounding their death.
Elderlies receiving end-of-life care continue receiving treatment that their diseases need to address the physical symptoms and delay the progression. Also, they receive holistic care, meaning, not just medical but also the proper spiritual, mental, and emotional support and care that they need to adjust to the terminal stage they are entering.
Depending on the patients’ choice, they may choose to receive palliative and end of life care in the comfort of their homes, together with their loved ones. During their remaining moments, they may choose to spend quality time and make more memories with their family members. Also, their families can provide them comfort and care first-hand.
Each death experience is painful, especially if it is someone dear to you. Going through the process of end of life together with your loved ones may soften the pain by letting the patients know they are loved and needed and enabling them to access palliative care and end of life care. What’s more important is that you did everything you could to provide for the needs and grant the wishes of your loved ones during their last moments.