When all other medical options have been explored, hospice care may be provided to terminally ill patients to enhance their quality of life. The average life expectancy of these patients is roughly six months or fewer. The hospice program may compassionately assist the patient in coming to grips with the fact that they will soon pass away. The patient has had significant medical therapy, and their treatment team has determined that there is no solution for their ailment and that they will not be able to live a comfortable life. The patient is supposed to be in a pleasant and loving atmosphere.
Physical Therapy in a Hospice Setting
Physical therapy is becoming more popular as a treatment option for hospice patients. This may improve a patient’s functional capacity and make it simpler to navigate their environment securely. The goal of physical therapy for hospice patients, in contrast to that of physical therapy for people who are in the prime of their lives, is to provide comfort for the patient’s physical concerns as they near the end of their lives. Patients in hospice care may benefit from physical therapy in several ways, some of which include therapeutic measures such as the application of heat, cold, or massage. Physical therapy is another helpful tool for pain management and may also help with overall comfort. Services such as these can be provided by the specialists working at MelodiaCare Hospice.
In a hospice environment, physical therapists collaborate with other medical professionals, such as doctors, nurses, social workers, psychotherapists, and trained volunteers, as part of a multidisciplinary team. The physical therapist has to be a contributing part of the team that possesses highly developed clinical abilities and can communicate effectively to encourage interaction within the team. They must be attentive to the patient’s needs and empathetic toward them, in addition to being clear about their function on the patient’s care team throughout their last months of life.
How Physical Therapy Can Assist Patients Receiving Hospice Care
October is National Physical Therapy Month, a time to recognize the experts who assist patients in becoming more robust with each step, including physical, occupational, and speech therapists, rehabilitation specialists, and other staff members such as hospice caretakers. According to the MelodiaCare Hospice, physical therapy plays an integral part in hospice care not only in San Mateo but also elsewhere because it helps patients maximize their functional ability and comfort to improve their quality of life, ensures the safety of both the patient and the caregiver, and provides support for the physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges that patients face as they get closer to the end of their lives.
Who is a Physical Therapist, and What Do They Do?
Physical Therapists do educate patients on how to avoid or control the symptoms of their ailment to achieve long-term improvements in their health. They provide individualized treatment plans for hospice patients, intending to improve their quality of life when they leave.
Physical therapists devise therapy methods to enable patients to move more freely while lowering pain, restoring function, and avoiding additional impairment.
The importance of PT in hospice care
Patients receiving hospice care should have these aims in mind while participating in physical therapy:
- The management of symptoms
- Manage your level of ease
- Optimize the remaining functional capacities as much as possible.
- Education for caregivers and participation in interprofessional team communication are both required.
Physical therapists assist patients in hospice care to preserve their sense of self-identity, reach a degree of comfort, and make the most use of their talents while the patients’ functional abilities, roles, and expectations gradually diminish over time.
A physical therapist may assess patients’ capacity to move safely within hospice care. This involves assessing the patient’s challenges while moving around and providing assistance with walking and getting into and out of bed.
They can assist the individual in moving securely from a chair to a bed, from a wheelchair to a bedroom, or from a wheelchair to a vehicle. These therapists first determine the patient’s degree of pain and then provide treatments that aid in the patient’s recovery from pain. Specific treatments may include strengthening exercises; however, this will vary from individual to the next.
The Role of the Therapist
When receiving hospice care, a physical therapist has a very different function than when working as part of a rehabilitation team. To better tailor their services to the hospice care industry, physical therapists must make significant adjustments to their roles. According to research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), physical therapists contribute to the care of hospice patients by shifting from a controlling position to a function as problem solvers and listeners.
Therefore, therapists can:
- Help the patient keep their functioning skills for as long as they possibly can, with your assistance, of course.
- Lessen the caregiving load for everyone involved, especially close friends and family members who provide care.
- Help in the management of pain.
- Offer hospice nurses helpful support in caring for their patients so they may do their jobs more effectively.
When it comes to providing direct patient care, physical therapists play a significant role as part of the hospice care team. They provide a variety of essential services, including the following:
- Pain management and alleviation
- Positioning to avoid contractures, minimize discomfort, prevent pressure sores, and assist with breathing and digesting.
- Practices that build stamina and save energy are referred to as endurance training.
- Instruction in gait, transfers, safety and stair climbing are all included.
- Exercises designed to treat ailments
- Treatment of edoema, a condition in which there is an accumulation of extra water inside the body
- Recommendations for equipment, as well as training and modifications
- Home modifications
Assuming the instructor position is likely one of the most significant aspects of working as a PT in a place that provides hospice care. Education may require not only instructing the patient on how to move effectively and securely but also instructing the patient’s caretakers so that they can get familiar with the routine. Physical therapists, like many other hospice care team members, may also take on the role of counsellor and bring powerful communication skills to each encounter they have with patients. A good number of PTs have mastered the skill of active listening.
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Yes, physical therapists can prevent injuries, eliminate potential dangers, and provide their patients with pain treatment. However, they also have another role in the undertaking, which often entails helping their patient regain a sense of who they are as an individual. The ability to confront the end of one’s life with dignity and respect for oneself and others may significantly improve one’s quality of life while reducing the number of nursing and social worker visits and lowering the risk of damage. As a result, physical therapists often work to improve their patient’s dignity and quality of life to foster a healthy existence up to the time of death.
As the patient’s health worsens, their demands as hospice patients will change. For instance, if the patient is unstable, the healthcare provider may need to instruct the patient and their family on how to walk with a cane and how to aid the patient with maintaining their balance. In a later stage, the patient may need the use of a walker, after which they may move to the use of a wheelchair or bed. The physical therapist must treat the patient with the dignity and respect they deserve to console them and give them pain treatment when the patient’s condition worsens.
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