November is National Home Care, Hospice and Palliative Care Month

hospice group 0709-1 (400 x 279)During November, Shore Health System is honoring the professionals who offer their skills, experience and caring support to patients and families when they require specialized medical services.

Rita Holley, MS, BSN, RN, Director for Shore Home Care and Hospice, says, “Although we officially celebrate our accomplishments in November, the work we do to make a difference in the quality of life for our patients and their families happens all year long.”

Simply being at home can be a comfort for individuals recovering from an illness or injury. Sometimes, though, the challenges of recovery may go beyond what even the most independent-minded person and well-prepared caregivers can manage.

“Shore Home Care provides services to patients discharged from the hospital, rehabilitation centers and nursing homes and for patients who are ill at home,” Holley explains. “Family members and patients can call us directly to discuss available services and to coordinate care with their primary care physician.”

The type and length of time that home health care services are provided is determined based on the severity of the illness or injury, in coordination with the patient’s physician. Members of the Shore Home Care team teach the patient and caregivers what steps to take to ensure progress and to create a safe environment at home. Shore Home Care consistently receives top scores for patient satisfaction and quality care from patients who have received the organization’s services.

Home health nurses provide medication and dietary instruction, wound care and education on specific diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. Social workers maintain a comprehensive network of community resources for other medical, financial and social services that may be needed.

Shore Home Care’s physical therapists use exercises and equipment to help relieve pain, maintain flexibility and increase mobility and strength. Occupational therapists provide patients with meaningful instruction on activities of daily living and on the use of adaptive equipment to help them gain greater independence while remaining safe at home. Speech-language therapists can help those with impaired speech regain the ability to communicate clearly and to overcome swallowing impairments common to stroke and other illnesses.

Home health aides help individuals with basic personal needs such as getting in and out of bed, bathing, dressing and grooming. Shore Home Care also offers Philips Lifeline®, a medical alert system that provides life-saving response and monitoring 24 hours a day.

Hospice care focuses on the quality of life rather than length of life. Under the medical direction of Lakshmi Vaidyanathan, MD, the Shore Home Care Hospice team of nurses, social workers, hospice aides, and physical, occupational and speech therapists helps patients and families review their options when they are facing the end of life.

Hospice services are provided to patients in their homes, in the guest wings of residential facilities operated by the Talbot and Caroline Hospice Foundations, and in assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

“Wherever home is – whether a skilled nursing facility, a residential hospice home, a friend or family member’s home, or the house you’ve been living in for many years, we want to help each person make the most of each day, surrounded by friends and family in a familiar, supportive environment,” says Shelley Stone, MS, BSN, RN, Shore Health System’s Hospice Program Manager.

“Palliative care is an option at any point in a patient’s course of illness from diagnosis onward, and may even be delivered alongside curative treatments to alleviate suffering,  whatever the prognosis,” says Lakshmi Vaidyanathan, MD, medical director for Shore Home Care Hospice. Dr. Vaidyanathan is board certified as a Diplomate in Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Consultations by physicians and nurses specialized in palliative care may benefit anyone with an advanced, debilitating or chronic illness, such as heart disease, Parkinson’s, kidney failure, lung disease or cancer. This specialized care is offered to patients at The Memorial Hospital at Easton and Dorchester General Hospital by nurses trained to relieve the pain, symptoms and stress of a serious illness.

“We are honored to be allowed to care for patients and their families during this most difficult time, and dedicated to providing comfort and support for the patient and those who are sharing this person’s journey,” says Bobbi Atkinson, BSN, RNC, Pain and Palliative Care Coordinator for Shore Health System.

In addition to tending to the medical needs of seriously ill and dying patients, hospice staff and palliative care providers encourage family members to discuss financial and legal matters, living wills, advance directives as well as their emotional and spiritual concerns. The goal is to help families make decisions that will guide them through a peaceful and comfortable transition.

For more information about Shore Home Care and Hospice, call 410-820-6052 and visit www.shorehealth.org/services/shc. For more information about palliative care services available through Shore Health System, call Bobbie Atkinson, 410 822-1000 or 410-228-5511, ext. 5738 and visit www.shorehealth.org/services/palliative.

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