While the terminally ill person you are caring for may not have wanted to die at home initially, their wishes may change as death gets closer. They may not want to be in an institution and would prefer to receive end of life care at home or in a home-like setting.
While some people wish to receive all their care in the home including at the time of death, others wish to receive care at home up until the last few days before the death at which time they may be transferred to a residential hospice, palliative care unit or other facility.
As a caregiver caring for a person at home at the end of their life you will need to consider where most or all of the care will be provided. While some people wish to receive all of their care in the home including at the time of death, others wish to receive care at home up until the last few days before the death at which time they may be transferred to a residential hospice, palliative care unit or other facility.
Caregivers will need to consider what changes are needed in the home to provide end of life care. Consider the following questions:
- If there are stairs, can the person climb them (up or down)?
- Where is the bathroom located? Is it close to where the care will be provided?
- Is there a preference to be in a bedroom or close to family activities?
- Will a hospital bed be needed and if so, is the care space large enough?
Other things to consider when providing end of life care and comfort
- Remove throw rugs on the floor as they can be a fall hazard
- Consider moving the bed of the terminally ill person you are caring for by the window, if possible
- Surround the person you are caring for with favourite pictures, music, and pets
- Use a small table within reach of the bed to keep snacks, drinks, medications, and books on
- Have a comfortable arm chair close by that is easy to get in and out of
- Consider a baby monitor or small bell that they can use to call for help
Equipment for end of life care
There is also equipment that can be rented that may be of assistance in providing end of life care including:
- Hospital bed
- Bed side table
- Bedside commode
- Raised toilet seat
- Bath seat
- Floor to ceiling assist pole
Resources to help support you as a caregiver
The community nurse, occupational therapist, or another member of the health care team may be of assistance in making recommendations about adapting your home for end of life care, including which equipment and aids may be of assistance to you and the person in your care.
Caring for someone at end-of-life can be an emotional experience. Make sure you get the help you need to take on this responsibility, and take the time to enjoy the final moments with the person in your care.
You may find relief in your grief by working on a legacy activity, or perhaps trying out a unique coping technique like the one written about in the Elizz article “Coping with grief and loss; finding hope in surprising ways.”
At Elizz, we provide caregiver support for you and home care services for those who depend on you. Elizz is a Canadian company powered by Saint Elizabeth, a national not-for-profit health care organization that has been caring for Canadians since 1908.