Care Choices

Choosing how you want to be cared for

If you have a life threatening or terminal condition, you are probably already planning how you would like to be cared for in the later stages of your illness. You may have a very clear idea of what you do and do not want with regards to your care so now is the time to make your wishes known.

It may not be possible to meet all your wishes but those that care for you will do everything they possibly can. You may find it most helpful to discuss your wishes with family, friends, your doctor and other people involved in your healthcare.

You can read a little more on some of the care options available by choosing from these options.

  • Social Care
  • Palliative Care
  • Hospice Care
  • Marie Curie Cancer Care
  • Macmillan Cancer Support

Social care

Social care is run by your local authority's social services department. You would normally access social care through a referral from your GP or hospital. Social care services vary from authority to authority. In some areas, elements of the help available may be free of charge while others may be part-funded or you may be required to meet the cost yourself through savings or benefits.

A social worker will be appointed to you and they will carry out a needs assessment. The elements they will assess you for may include:

  • Home Help - to assist with cleaning, shopping and laundry
  • Personal care - to help with washing, bathing and/or dressing
  • Meals on wheels - delivery of a daily, nutritious hot meal or a week's supply of frozen meals
  • Personal equipment or emergency alarms - time at home could be made easier by installing extra handrails, a stairlift or (in some authorities) a home alarm allowing you to call for help day or night.

If your care worker feels any of the above may be appropriate they will tell you what needs to happen in order for you to start receiving these services.

In brief:

  • Usually available through GP or hospital referral
  • Costs vary depending on authority
  • Assessment of needs

Palliative Care

The aim of palliative care is to relieve pain and ease the effects of a life threatening illness. The goal is to improve the person’s quality of life, ensuring that they are able to live comfortably with dignity and with support available to both the patient and their loved ones.

Palliative care is suitable for patients at various stages of their illness whether undergoing treatment for curable illness or those nearing the end of life.

Palliative Care can usually be provided in any setting and alongside any other treatments, whether this is early on in the illness or at a very advanced stage. Palliative care is not intended to have any effect on the length of time someone has left to live.

A multidisciplinary approach is taken to palliative patient care with input from nurses, social workers, physicians, psychologists and other health professionals, all helping put together a plan to address all aspects of the patient’s suffering.

In brief:

  • The treatment of life threatening or terminal illness
  • Dedicated to relieving the pain associated with the patient’s condition
  • Can be provided in a variety of settings
  • A multidisciplinary approach

Hospice Care

Hospice care is dedicated to improving the lives of people with life-limiting or terminal illnesses by providing palliative care.

Where possible, hospice care helps the patient live as actively as possible until the end of their life. Whilst hospice care is usually provided in a dedicated building, community hospice care allows for treatment in the home, too.

Hospice care also looks after emotional, spiritual and social needs and aims to provide support for family and friends as well. It is not just for the elderly. hospice care is available for all ages, from very small children, young people and adults.

In brief:

  • Dedicated to patients with a terminal illness
  • Usually provided in a dedicated building
  • Suitable for all ages

Marie Curie Cancer Support

The Marie Curie Nursing Service is a UK wide network of nurses whose aim is to help those nearing the end of their lives and help them remain at home, if that is their wish.

The service provided by the Marie Curie Nursing Service differs from Macmillan Nurses in that it cares for people in the last few months or weeks of life whilst Macmillan Nurses assist people from the first diagnosis. The Marie Curie Nursing Service is usually provided overnight, often for seven to eight hours.

A Marie Curie Nurse can be requested via the district nurse, who will decide whether a request is appropriate. Marie Curie Cancer Care also runs nine hospices in locations across the UK.

In brief:

  • Specialist care in the last weeks or months of life
  • Overnight care provided in the patient’s home
  • Referral via district nurse
  • Nine hospices in the UK

Macmillan Cancer Support

Macmillan Cancer Support provide Macmillan Nurses. There are over 3,000 Macmillan Nurses in the UK, working in both hospitals and in the community. All Macmillan Nurses have at least five years' experience which will include two or more years cancer or palliative care. All Macmillan Nurses have taken specialist courses in the management of pain and other symptoms as well as in psychological support.

Macmillan Nurses are usually employed by the NHS and their posts are funded by Macmillan for a set time, commonly the first three years. After that time, the long-term funding is taken up by the NHS or other partner organisations. The nurses work in NHS hospitals and the community, but are not usually associated with private health care.

Some Macmillan Nurses are specialists in particular cancer treatments including breast cancer and chemotherapy. Macmillan Nurses also provide support for children and parents at home and within hospital and aim to help keep children at home with their families where possible.

In brief:

  • Experienced nurses
  • Available throughout the UK
  • Specialising in cancer and palliative care
  • Some specialise in particular treatments
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