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Do models of care designed for terminally ill ‘home alone’ people improve their end-of-life experience? A patient perspective

Authors


Professor Samar Aoun
The Western Australian Centre for Cancer and Palliative Care
Curtin University
GPO Box U1987, Perth WA 6845
Australia
E-mail: s.aoun@curtin.edu.au

Abstract

Palliative care patients who live alone report greater psychological distress, and are less likely to die at home than those living with a family carer. However, there is a lack of research on the value of models of care that specifically address this disadvantage. This article describes the experiences of terminally ill ‘home alone’ people using one of two models of care aimed at maintaining participants’ need for independent living, focusing on the effect of these two models of care on their physical, social and emotional needs. Twenty six palliative care patients of Silver Chain Hospice Care, in Western Australia, were randomly assigned to either having a personal alarm or additional care-aide hours in their home. An in-depth qualitative study was conducted in two phases in 2010 using face-to-face interviews. The care-aide model of care resulted in benefits such as easing the burden of everyday living; supporting well-being; enhancing quality of life and preserving a sense of dignity; and reducing loneliness and isolation. The personal alarm model of care imparted a sense of security; provided peace of mind; and helped to deal with feelings of isolation. Participants in both groups felt that they could remain at home longer. By providing a safer, more secure environment through the use of a personal alarm or additional care-aide hours, patients were able to continue their activities of daily living, could build a sense of ‘normality’ into their lives, and they could live independently through support and dignity.

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