Innovative Urgent Care for the Palliative Patient at Home
Palliative and end-of-life patients in their homes are at risk of developing symptom crises requiring urgent care. The usual care for these patients involves transport to an Emergency Department (ED) despite the preference of most palliative patients to stay home. The objective of this initiative was to develop an innovative strategy to provide collaborative care in the home to alleviate symptoms and avoid transport. A partnership was created among Emergency Medical Services and Community Care staff, physicians, and leaders to enable patients to stay at home with existing resources during symptom crisis. As a result of the initiative, patients were able to stay at home more frequently. When patients required transport to the ED, it occurred after attempted symptom management in the home. A total of 110 calls were tracked in the first 18 months of the initiative. Of those, 61% ended with the patient staying home, in alignment with their preferred place of care at the end of life. A collaborative approach by care providers in the community enabled patients to stay home despite symptom crisis near the end of life.