The benefits of being cared for at home
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Working closely with the most seriously ill of patients, Joanna Mitchell knows only too well the difference it can make when they are cared for at home.
Now, during these unprecedented times, she believes it is more important than ever that those who are nearing the end of their lives are within familiar surroundings.
Q: Can you tell us a little about the service you offer?
Yes, I am the owner, director and registered manager of Your Care, which looks after NHS patients and private clients in the Canterbury area (CT1 to CT6). We launched in January 2020 and focus on patients with complex health issues, 99 per cent of whom require palliative, end-of-life care. Because we are specialists, we can deal with stomas, catheters, PEG feeding, and moving and handling, including hoisting. We are all also very well trained in dementia. We are a small, compassionate, person-centred team and our aim is to enable people to stay at home for as long as possible, if that is their wish. Approximately 70 per cent of people choose to die at home and we tailor-make care packages to enable them to do so.
Q: What are the benefits to patients of being able to stay at home?
Mentally and emotionally it makes a huge difference. Not only can they be with their family in their final days, but they are in the comfort of their own home, with all their belongings around them. It is especially hard being in hospital at the moment: because of the visiting restrictions around Covid, patients now spend most of their time with strangers. Each package we offer is bespoke – for some people it might be just an hour or two a day and for others it might be all day, every day. It is also very flexible, as we understand that one day someone might be up and walking around, then the next day require care in bed. That flexibility just does not exist in hospital – you have to fit in with the hospital’s routine. This can result in patients becoming institutionalised, which can make them very despondent in mood. It is lovely to see them perk up when they come home.
Q: What are the benefits to the family?
We take the role of the carer, which allows them to continue being family and to enjoy what time they have left with their relative. They get respite while we are there – if they want to go off shopping or out for a coffee, then they can do so safe in the knowledge that their loved one is being looked after.
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Q: How do you reassure patients and family about Covid-safety?
We have been preparing all summer for this second wave and take every precaution to ensure our patients, their families and our staff are kept safe. We have ample PPE and a strict policy in place in terms of wearing it. Everyone has had the full NHS training, learning how to put it on, take it off and dispose of it safely. To date, we have not had any cases, which is a combination of luck, the right PPE and good practice.