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Palliative care has a different purpose than most other forms of nursing. In a hospital, you are treating someone to get better. When you are attending to someone in palliative care, they are not going to get better. The best you can do is to treat the symptoms and help them cope. And often, helping them cope extends beyond just the primary patient. “Sometimes you’re treating the family and not the patient. You’re making the patient comfortable but you’re providing a lot of psychosocial support to the family,” said Carol. “It’s a huge undertaking for a family to look after somebody who is passing away in their home.”

No Substitute for Being There John and Margaret Henderson say that home visits by doctors were common in their native Scotland long ago, but this practice is thought to be nearly archaic today. When John told their children that Margaret’s doctor made house calls, their children reacted with utter disbelief. Given John’s jocular nature, you could forgive his offspring for wondering if their father was spinning a yarn. John is absolutely serious about what home visits have meant to him and his wife who is in end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and wishes to remain at home.

“Do you know Braveheart?” John asks. “I have William Wallace to thank for meeting my wife!” “He’s been trying to get rid of me since!” chimes in Margaret. The two have made Parkland County home for the last forty years. COPD damages a person’s airways, making it difficult to breathe. Margaret’s frail frame is often wracked by violent coughing fits and she requires oxygen 24/7. John cares for Margaret in their home and both say that the support they receive at home makes this possible. John says there are days when getting to the living room is too much for her. Margaret hasn’t had the strength to leave the home in about a year. She is grateful to have medical help come to her.

one of those people that don’t like hospitals,” said Margaret. “It helps John a lot. He doesn’t need to worry about me as much.” During this particular visit, Dr. Datar, Carol and Ashley join Margaret and John in the bedroom where Margaret is resting. Dr. Datar and Margaret discuss how she is doing today. They both agree she has improved since his last visit. >

“It means everything. I’m in pain a lot. It makes it so much easier when they come to see me rather than having to go to the doctor’s office because I just wouldn’t go. I’m

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“It’s made a big, big difference in my life. I sleep well now. I was worried before. I didn’t know what to do,” said John, who is Margaret’s primary caregiver. John and Margaret met nearly 50 years ago - “I was working at a nunnery!” says Margaret. John says they met at a dance, part of the annual Lanimer festivities in Lanark, Scotland where William Wallace once lived.

(clockwise from top right) Carol Potter, LPN; home care patient Margaret Henderson; the home care team in discussion at the Henderson home; John Henderson.

care | fall 2014

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CARE – Fall 2014 | College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta  

In this issue: A unique home visit model of care is making life easier for palliative and geriatric patients in the Edmonton area. Does poor...

CARE – Fall 2014 | College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta  

In this issue: A unique home visit model of care is making life easier for palliative and geriatric patients in the Edmonton area. Does poor...