Home palliative care teams provide specialized palliative care to patients who need it at home, and support to their families and carers at the patient’s home. They also provide specialist advice to general practitioners, family doctors, and nurses caring for the patient at home.
The home palliative care team is a multiprofessional team whose primary function is to support people at home or in a nursing home (i.e., relatives, medical staff, nurses, physiotherapists). It offers support with a graded approach. Most often, the home palliative care team has an advisory and mentoring function, and offers its expertise in pain therapy, symptom control, palliative care, and psychosocial support. Advice and support by the home palliative care team can also be provided directly to the patient. Less frequently, the home palliative care team may provide ‘hands-on,’ direct care in collaboration with the general practitioner and other primary care workers. In selected cases of patients with highly complex symptoms and problems, the home palliative care team may take over treatment from the general practitioner and the nursing service, and provide holistic palliative care.
The home palliative care team also assists the transfer between hospital and home.
There should be one home palliative care team available for each 100,000 inhabitants. Home palliative care teams must be available seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
The core of a home palliative care team consists of four to five full-time professionals comprising physicians and nurses with specialist training, a social worker, and administrative staff.
The home palliative care team works in close collaboration with other professionals so that the full range of multiprofessional teamwork can be realized in the home-care setting.
Palliative care at home requires close collaboration of other professional services, such as specialized nursing services and general practitioners with specialist training, including (but not restricted to) regular meetings at the patient’s bedside in addition to other tasks.
The home palliative care team requires a working room available to nurses, physicians, and social workers, as well as a meeting room and a depot for medical aids.
Radbruch L, Payne S and the Board of Directors of the EAPC. EAPC update. White Paper on standards and norms for hospice and palliative care in Europe: part 2. European Journal of Palliative Care, 2009; 16(6)