Although it can be difficult to think about, most of us will reach a point where we can no longer care for ourselves. You may wonder what options are available for people in this situation. Most communities can offer some degree of following options:
If you have new symptoms that are not being well managed at home, you may need to go to your local emergency room. The emergency physicians will decide if you need admission to hospital. Sometimes, they can treat the problem and send you back home. In other cases you may need to stay in hospital to manage your symptoms. In general, a hospital is not usually necessary for end of life care, especially if a person has documented their wishes and had advance care planning discussions with their health team and loved ones.
When a practitioner has estimated that their patient only has 4 or fewer months to live, hospice care can be accessed in Alberta. Hospice care is paid for as part of your Alberta Health benefits. Your practitioners can help you with determining your eligibility, when the time arises. In Edmonton, only Palliative Care specialists at the University of Alberta, Royal Alexandra Hospital, Grey Nuns Hospital, or the Community Palliative Care Team can refer you to be admitted to a local hospice. Typically, people who qualify for hospice are in bed most of the day, and have significant difficulty doing any activities. There are details on all local hospices, listed on www.palliative.org which is the Edmonton Regional Palliative Care Program’s website.
Staying at Home
Many people would like to stay at home until they die. This can be possible in many cases, depending on the supports that a person may have. In Edmonton, Palliative Home Care can support the person in the home. In addition, the Community Palliative Care program can send nurses and doctors to your home to guide your family physician in your care. There is a program in the Edmonton region called EMS Treat in Place. This allows your Home Care worker to call the ambulance to help you with symptom management, with the aim to leave you in the home, and not go to an emergency room. Many people make the decision that they do not want to go to hospital, when they are close to the end of their lives.
- Family physician (can refer to you to resources such as: Social Worker, Physiotherapy, Psychology or Psychiatry, or Palliative Care Practitioner)
- Specialist Care (Cirrhosis Practitioner-can also refer to Palliative Care trained to deal with specific cirrhosis patient needs)
- Community Resources (Chaplain, general support Groups, help groups for addictions).
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