A Palliative approach to care involves comprehensive care planning for current needs, as well as advance care planning and preparing for death.
Addressing current needs may include symptom management, referrals to other services and ensuring that patients and families know who they can contact for help when they need it.
Palliative care patients have varied and unique symptoms that can be challenging to manage.These guidelines from British Columbia provide the most recent and evidence-based recommendations for palliative symptom management:
Advance Care Planning is a process of reflection and communication. It is a time for patients to reflect on their values and wishes, and to let loved ones know what kind of health and personal care is desired in the future. It is intended to address the question:
What if something happens?
To learn more about and find additional resources to support you with Advance Care Planning and Goals of Care please visit:
The Nova Scotia Green Sleeve is a central place to keep important documents to help communicate a patient's health care plans, goals and care wishes to health care providers. Patients should keep their Green Sleeve somewhere easy to find and should bring it with them to health care appointments or emergency department visits.
When plans have been made for a home death, families should be reminded that there is no need to call 911 at the time of death. Calling 911 will trigger an emergency response and this may be distressing to grieving families.
If 911 is called, a completed Expected Death at Home (EDAH) form may decrease the likelihood of an unintended emergency response. It is important to advise families that this will not guarantee that police will not respond.
The 1-page form summarizes the important information required to facilitate a peaceful and respectful home death. The form includes basic demographic information and identifies the signatory (physician, nurse practitioner, or program) of the death certificate within 24 hours of the death. This is critical to enable funeral providers to transport the body.
The form should be completed in discussion with the client and/or substitute decision-maker.
If permission is provided, the form will be shared with the funeral provider and local police, and can help avoid unnecessary police/medical examiner presence at the home after the death.
If consent is not obtained to share the form electronically, it can still be left in the home in a Green Sleeve and the family may choose to show it to police and funeral providers.