iPad helping end of life care patients to live at home

Being told that the life you had planned for yourself is to be cut short is devastating enough.

ipadLoss of control and independence, the transition from being able bodied to disabled only adds to the heavy burden that patients can feel when diagnosed with a life limiting illness.

To help give patients control back, Macmillan occupational therapist Helen Caudren put forward an idea for staff to use iPads to help describe to patients and their carers how equipment will look in their own homes and how to use them safely.

She said: “Most patients want to live the final part of their lives in their own home with their family, where they are comfortable and happy. ” We assess what they may need in order for them to be able to remain at home and live a normal and independent life, for as long as they are able to.

“To do this we usually have to prescribe equipment and adaptations such as wheelchairs, ramps, or adapted cutlery to help that patient.

“Often when the equipment was received, the patient feedback often was that the piece of equipment to be too big, ‘disabled looking’ or disruptive to family life.”

Helen and specialist therapy technician Jean Abbey (pictured) are now using the iPad to help clear up any misunderstandings and put patients at ease.

Helen said: “I thought if we could start using iPads, it would allow us to show palliative patients and their families or carers images of the equipment or adaptation we plan to prescribe for them.

“It has meant patients can make an informed choice about how it will look in their home, how it will operate and how it will improve their independence. For example, when a carer asked ‘will the wheelchair fit into my car?’ I could show them the wheelchair, how it folds to make transporting easier then discuss any further areas of concern.

“The iPad has helped fully engage patients and their family in the selection of equipment, preparing them for its arrival, reducing any emotional distress and making them feel more in control of what is happening.

“My role is to help the person affected by a life limiting illness to regain a level of independence in activities that are meaningful to them to improve their quality of life and this has helped do that.”

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