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Posted on 29/06/2020

Living and dying at home – How to support your loved one

As we wrote about in our recent blog, ‘Why needing care doesn’t have to mean leaving home’, many people are so determined to remain at home that they will only leave when they are, “Carried out in a box.”

Indeed, in the National Bereavement Survey of 2011, 71 percent of people expressed a preference for dying at home, so if this is your loved one’s view they certainly aren’t alone.

Many families, however, worry about how they might support such an aspiration. Often families have little or no experience of supporting a loved one whose health is deteriorating, or who needs palliative or end-of-life care, and they have numerous concerns, including how to keep their loved one comfortable and ensure their needs are met.

The importance of planning ahead

Thinking about end-of-life care is difficult, and as a result planning for it is often put off. There are numerous reasons for this, as the Mycarematters blog of November 2019 explored through the results of a survey that they conducted of attitudes, knowledge and actions regarding future care, which included this insight:

“One of the most startling findings in our survey is that the majority of respondents say that they will either ‘get around to planning their care at some point’, and/or they will ‘let their family make the decisions when the time comes’.  We’re obviously all either optimists or fatalists, or even fantasists?”

To combat this, Mycarematters created the My Future Care Handbook, a comprehensive document that takes a person and their family through everything from making a bucket list to planning their funeral. There are many other resources available to support end-of-life planning too, most notably from Dying Matters.

When to think about professional support

Whilst many families often try to cope alone as a loved one’s health deteriorates, or opt for a care home because they believe that to be the best option, live-in care is the only professional care solution that can fully support a person to live and die at home with 24-hour support.

This type of care from an experienced live-in care worker can remove all of the worries families have about meeting their loved one’s needs and keeping them comfortable, enabling family members to concentrate on the most important job of all – being there for their loved one.

Palliative and end-of-life live-in care

Our live-in care is sensitive and respectful to the person’s needs, ensuring their dignity at all times. We can work with the person and their family to formulate an end-of-life plan if one isn’t already in place, and provide the advice and support needed to understand what the latter stages of a person’s life may involve and how everyone can work together to create the most supportive environment possible.

Our live-in care workers understand the importance of working with the person’s multi-disciplinary team to ensure their care is the very best it can be, and will always seek additional support if the person’s condition demands it. Care plans are also regularly reviewed to ensure that they are meeting the person’s needs as their condition changes.

Ways family members can support their loved one’s end-of-life care

Every person has their own ideas about how the last days or hours of their life might evolve, and this is particularly true for anyone who has been confronted by their own mortality by being given a terminal diagnosis.

Families do, however, often ask what they can practically do to support their loved one while our live-in carers ensure the person’s care needs are met. Some of the most positive examples we’ve seen come from families who have read, quietly sung or hummed favourite tunes to their loved one, provided gentle hand massages or stroked the person’s arm, used a much-loved aromatherapy scent in a person’s room, or supported their faith preferences by conducting certain rituals or saying certain words to provide the person with comfort and the feeling that they can let go.

Find out more about how ENA Care Group could support you or your family by calling 08004 334 413 or emailing care@ena.co.uk.