July 2nd, 2014
Editor’s note: Carol O’Shaughnessy also coauthored this post. This post is part of a periodic Health Affairs Blog series on palliative care, health policy, and health reform. The series features essays adapted from and drawing on an upcoming volume, Meeting the Needs of Older Adults with Serious Illness: Challenges and Opportunities in the Age of Health Care Reform, in which clinicians, researchers and policy leaders address 16 key areas where real-world policy options to improve access to quality palliative care could have a substantial role in improving value.
Family caregivers — what would we do without them? So why can’t we do more for and with them?
Many studies have demonstrated that family caregivers provide a wide range of essential care to people with serious chronic illnesses or disabilities — the same people who can benefit from palliative care applied as an ongoing approach to care, not just a hospital-based intervention.
It is family caregivers who are responsible for much of the complex care at home, including managing pain and other medications, monitoring equipment, and communicating with the palliative care team. To say that most family caregivers are not prepared to take on this demanding role is an understatement.Read the rest of this entry »