Caring Together: Palliative Care in Assisted Living Communities
“A lot of pluses have come out of it.” That’s how Virginia (Ginny) Cuthbertson feels about the palliative care she’s receiving from Care Dimensions at her assisted living community, Putnam Farm in Danvers. In the comfort of her own apartment, Ginny is able to visit with family and friends, watch the movies that she loves and receive care and support from our palliative care nurse practitioner, Jennifer Culgin, APRN, BC, NP.
As Putnam Farm Resident Director Ellen Graham sees it, working together with Care Dimensions’ palliative care program is a win-win for their residents and staff. “We strive to help our residents get the most quality out of life. Working together with the palliative care
clinical team at Care Dimensions ensures that our residents who require pain or symptom management have access to this expertise and care,” said Graham.
For 90 year-old Ginny, this collaboration of care has made the difference in her state of mind, mobility and activity level. “The pain I had wore me out. I didn’t want to do anything. I would lay in bed dreading having to get up,” said Ginny. “That’s how bad the pain in my back was.”
After three visits from her Palliative Care nurse, who conducted a comprehensive assessment of Ginny’s symptoms and recommended changes to her pain medication regime, Ginny and her family began to notice remarkable changes. Her voice became stronger, her spirit brighter and she was eager to get back to the myriad of activities that Putnam Farm offers. “My pain just stopped being a barrier to my quality of life,” she said.
Collaboration with Facilities
For Graham and the rest of the staff at Putnam Farm, seeing this turn-around in Ginny, and in other residents receiving palliative care, reinforces the benefits of coordinated care. Care Dimensions’ Palliative Care program collaborates with assisted living communities to complement the care they provide to meet the unique needs of their seriously ill residents. Care Dimensions’ Palliative Care team is comprised of physicians
and nurse practitioners, all board certified in hospice and palliative care. In addition to working in assisted living communities, they provide palliative care consultations in hospitals, nursing homes or at the patient’s home. “As palliative care consultants, we partner with other providers, including assisted living communities, and the patient’s personal physician to offer clinical assessments, recommendations for pain and symptom management and in-person follow-up visits to evaluate patient progress. In addition, we coordinate discussions with the patient and their family about goals of end-of-life care and advance directives and hospice care, if necessary.
Palliative care offers a much-needed layer of assistance to patients and families that can reduce hospitalizations and emergency room visits by better managing symptoms at home.
After a hospital stay for congestive heart failure and rapid atrial fibrillation at the age of 91, Phyllis Kransberg of Beverly, MA, discovered that palliative care was just what she needed to help keep her out of the hospital and back on track.
After being diagnosed with cancer of the tissue lining the abdomen, Steve turned to Care Dimensions for palliative care to manage his symptoms and help him live the way he wanted while dealing with a serious illness.