Preparing for emergencies

Being a caregiver for a loved one on hospice is challenging day-to-day. As time goes on, caregivers face the added likelihood of a health emergency at home.

Symptoms may develop quickly, during the night or on the weekend, when access to emergency or urgent assistance is more limited. Being able to offer relief at home prevents suffering and reduces visits to the emergency department and inpatient hospitalizations.

Hospice patients, depending on their illness and the stage of their disease, can experience a variety of symptoms that can be alleviated through emergency home care, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Delirium
  • Excessive secretions
  • Dyspnea
  • Infection with fever
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Pain
  • Peripheral edema
  • Pulmonary congestion

Having the right medications and supplies on hand to alleviate these symptoms means you can offer immediate relief. Home emergency kits have been shown to prevent up to 75 percent of emergency department visits and dramatically reduce the number of hospital admissions.

Hospice will help make sure you are stocked with supplies and equipment you need for daily care and emergencies. This can include but is not limited to:

  • Bandages and other wound care supplies
  • Disposable gloves
  • Incontinence supplies
  • Nebulizer
  • Ostomy supplies
  • Oxygen concentrator and portable tanks
  • Suction equipment

United Hospice guides family and home caregivers in learning about using medications and equipment and responding to a health emergency. The patient’s healthcare team can determine what should be on hand in the home.

Having a home emergency kit and plan can take away some of the stress related to being a family caregiver. Talk to your team at UH and your healthcare team to ensure you are prepared for emergency care.