Unexpected clinical emergencies may arise abruptly in palliative and end-of-life care. If prompt medical intervention is not provided, these emergencies can impact a patient’s well-being and overall quality of life. Additionally, such situations can be highly distressing for both patients and their companions. It is crucial to identify patients who may be susceptible to such emergencies and establish a proactive plan if an emergency does occur.
Professionals in health and social care must possess the ability to recognise indicators and manifestations of emergencies in palliative care. Furthermore, they should be knowledgeable about the appropriate procedures for promptly securing urgent medical referrals when necessary.
It is essential to be prepared for a range of critical situations. These common palliative care emergencies encompass physical challenges such as pain crises, dyspnea, and seizures, as well as emotional and spiritual distress, which require sensitive and immediate attention.
A sudden and severe pain that cannot be adequately managed with the patient’s regular pain control measures.
An acute and intense difficulty in breathing, particularly distressing for patients with advanced illnesses.
Persistent and uncontrollable nausea and vomiting that standard anti-nausea medications cannot alleviate.
Episodes of uncontrolled muscle activity that can manifest in patients with neurological conditions, such as brain metastases.
Rapid changes in mental status, often triggered by metabolic imbalances or medication side effects, along with emotional distress and spiritual concerns, necessitating immediate attention.
Intense emotional suffering and psychological anguish requiring immediate support within the palliative care context.
Profound spiritual or existential struggles that significantly impact the patient’s well-being, necessitating compassionate and empathetic care.
To ensure the highest level of patient care and safety, it is imperative for healthcare professionals to implement a comprehensive approach that includes the following key steps:
It can be good to create a back up care plan to ensure the well being of a loved one that you may be caring for or living with. This back up care plan would involve identifying a family member or friends who can serve as a back up carer, obtaining essential information about their healthcare needs. This would include:
For more information on becoming a carer for your loved one to support them with palliative care emergencies, take a look at this article published by Marie Curie.
When dealing with an emergency in palliative care:
At Cavendish Homecare we are experts in providing palliative homecare for individuals with terminal illnesses who want to remain in their own homes. We work to support the patients and their families with sensitive and comforting palliative care in London.
Mairead Liston, a dedicated figure in healthcare, began her journey as a nurse and midwife, laying the foundation for a remarkable career. Driven by passion and expertise, Mairead established a successful nursing agency, serving as a crucial staffing resource for major hospitals in London and the UK.
In 2010, Mairead founded Cavendish Homecare with a mission to provide exceptional care in the comfort of people’s homes. Mairead’s areas of expertise encompass palliative and end of life care, post-operative care, and cancer care, ensuring the delivery of the highest quality of care to her clients.
Her transformative impact is exemplified through prestigious awards, including the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award and the Chief Nursing Officer in Adult Social Care Silver award, recognising her dedicated service to social care.
By becoming a member of the Guild of Freemen of the City of London, Mairead not only emphasises her active support for both current and future nurses but also plays a vital role in contributing to the ongoing evolution of the nursing profession.