The elderly have always been disproportionately affected by cancer, and incidence of cancer in geriatric patients is likely to increase in the future, due to many factors, such as delayed diagnoses, the lack of standard guidelines for screening, patient and family misapprehensions, and the effects of aging.
Oncology teams may be able to improve outcomes by leveraging home care services that can support individual treatment plans.
Here are 6 ways in which qualified home care services provide support that can reduce hospitalization (and overall healthcare system utilization) while improving patient and caregiver quality of life.
Cancer care at home: Preparing the right resources
1. Caregiver education.
The key to empowering patients and caregivers (including spouses, family members, friends, and others) is education on the healthcare condition they are facing, and what to do about it. For example, the Oncology Nursing Society has developed a tool kit for home-based cancer care that includes “Tips for Administering Oral Chemotherapy at Home.”
The impact of caregiver education
of “educational interventions” with caregivers resulted in a positive change in caregiver behavior.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (2018) reported this success after sharing simple tips and information sharing key knowledge points for cancer care. Topics included: Injection technique, pain care, feeding, dysphagia, and bowel function.
2. Low-complexity infusions.
When hydration and other supportive cancer treatments are required, home care can facilitate certain functions, such as managing IVs, tubes, lines, ports and catheters in accordance with the patient’s oncology treatment plan. NOTE: Chemotherapy infusion can sometimes be performed by a home health RN – depending on state law.
3. Remote monitoring, telemetry, and telemedicine.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (2015) reported, “Automated remote monitoring and coaching…offers impressive benefits in reducing the physical burden and psychosocial distress of caregiving during and after parental hospice care.” Home care can play a role in this aspect of care, by facilitating monitoring and telemetry functions (as well as telemedicine-based coaching), thereby reducing caregiver stress.
Also for consideration: Home care professionals can support the monitoring of cancer patients on weekends, enabling oncology team members to restore themselves.
Caregivers & Videoconferencing
19.2% - Reduced anxiety
24.8% - Reduced distress
4. Incorporating protein into the diet.
Protein plays an important role in building and maintaining muscle mass as well as cell growth and repair. Home care professionals are well positioned to make protein a part of the patient’s diet because of their daily presence in the home and their familiarity with client dietary preferences.
5. Local knowledge.
Locally based home care providers have local relationships and knowledge of area resources. This can expedite care. Patients also tend to feel at home with local people who are part of the same or similar communities. This accelerates the development of trust, cultural connections, everyday rapport, and stronger care relationships.
6. General risk reduction.
Risk reduction goes beyond being sensitive to immuno-compromised patients at risk of infection. It also includes safe management and support of oral chemotherapy, drug organization and labeling, use of PPE, and reinforcement of family caregiver education.
The integrated care management model by SeniorBridge
Home care services vary widely in the services they provide.
SeniorBridge offers an integrated care management practice model that involves two components:
1. Clinical care (under the direction of an RNCM/Registered Nurse Care Manager) supported by a Social Worker and a team of caregivers, based on patient’s needs and
2. A portfolio of home care services and geriatric care management in such areas as nutrition, caregiver education, benefit coordination, transportation, nursing home admission, and coordination with discharge planners, physicians, pharmacy, home health agencies, and care managers. NOTE: We have full COVID-19 safety protocols in place to keep clients, families and associates safe.
For more information on cancer home care support services, contact SeniorBridge.
Society of Clinical Oncologists
Oncology Nursing Society
Johns Hopkins Medicine
ASCO: American Society of Clinical Oncology