Palliative Access Through Care at Home: Experiences with an Urban, Geriatric Home Palliative Care Program

Authors

  • Abigail P. H. Holley MD,

    1. From the *Section of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Diabetes Research and Training Center, and Section of Hematology and Oncology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
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  • Rita Gorawara-Bhat PhD,

    1. From the *Section of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Diabetes Research and Training Center, and Section of Hematology and Oncology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
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  • William Dale MD, PhD,

    1. From the *Section of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Diabetes Research and Training Center, and Section of Hematology and Oncology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
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  • Joshua Hemmerich PhD,

    1. From the *Section of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Diabetes Research and Training Center, and Section of Hematology and Oncology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
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  • Deon Cox-Hayley DO

    1. From the *Section of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Diabetes Research and Training Center, and Section of Hematology and Oncology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
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Address correspondence to Abigail P. H. Holley, 5841 S Maryland Ave, MC 6098, Chicago, IL 60637. E-mail: Abigail.Holley@uchospitals.edu

Abstract

The aging of the U.S. population has resulted in a large number of persons with multiple, chronic illnesses and gradual functional decline. Many older adults with these conditions are homebound and have great difficulty accessing medical care. They are also more likely to suffer from unaddressed symptoms and end-of-life care needs. Certain groups, such as African-American patients and patients with dementia, are even less likely to access palliative care and hospice services. Although the informal caregivers attending to such persons may become overwhelmed without adequate support, palliative care, which covers a broad population, is an optimal way to address many of these needs. This article describes a unique, urban, home-based geriatrics palliative care program (Palliative Access Through Care at Home (PATCH)) designed to address some of these unmet needs. After 1 year of providing service, a mixed-methods study consisting of chart review, telephone interviews, and face-to-face interviews was conducted to assess caregiver expectations of and satisfaction with the program. Caregivers for the elderly, mostly African-American patients, more than half of whom had dementia, were overall very satisfied with their experience, despite the large amount of time necessary to provide the care that patients required. Themes extracted during qualitative analysis were the desire to remain at home, the need for easy access to a practitioner specializing in geriatrics and palliative medicine, and the challenges of transitions of care. PATCH was able to address many of these needs and provide high levels of caregiver satisfaction.

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