How Caregivers Can Get the Support They Need

Southcoast’s Supportive Care Services cares for patients facing serious illness — and their loved ones

A joint report released by The National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP Public Policy Institute estimates that 34.2 million Americans annually provide unpaid care for a loved one age 50 or older. It’s a powerful statistic that drove the Southcoast Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) to redefine its Supportive Care Services program. Today, the program not only provides supportive care for any patient coping with a serious illness, but it also is committed to giving caregivers the empathy and guidance they deserve.

“We treat each patient as part of a unit — which includes the family,” explains Sharon Jones, president and CEO of Southcoast VNA. “There are always physical issues for the patient experiencing a serious or end-of-life diagnosis. But for both caregiver and patient, there are also emotional, psychological, social and spiritual matters. So we’re here to help each patient experience the best quality of life and enjoy their time with their family.”

Exceeding expectations

VNA’s Supportive Care Services includes palliative care for patients diagnosed with a life-threatening disease and seeking curative treatment, as well as hospice care for patients who are focused on comfort and quality of life.

“Supportive Care encompasses a spectrum of services, which always begins by engaging the patient in a discussion about what matters most to them,” says Robin Pelletier, RN, director of Supportive Care Services. “In that way we can ensure that the patient receives care consistent with their preferences.”

Palliative care and hospice care can take place in a patient’s home, nursing home, skilled nursing facility or the hospital. In all instances, the VNA Supportive Care Services team aims to manage symptoms associated with an illness or disease and, if pertinent, the symptoms related to treatment, including:

  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Mental or emotional symptoms (e.g., confusion, depression and anxiety)

An expert team of palliative and hospice care specialists handles Southcoast VNA’s Supportive Care Services. The team includes physicians, nurse practitioners, certified hospice nurses, social workers, chaplains, bereavement counselors, home health aides and specially trained volunteers.

Every person is unique

Whether a patient is in active treatment or focused on the quality of their life, medical decisions, treatment choices and medications can always be blended with complementary alternative therapies. Depending on individual preferences, therapies include Reiki, therapeutic touch and massage. “This is an important part of caring for the whole person,” says Pelletier.

To learn more about Southcoast Supportive Care Services, call 800-698-6877 or visit Supportive Care Services.