More than hospice: Advanced Care offers palliative care in the home

Many people with chronic long-term or terminal illness need care at home, but they aren’t ready or eligible for hospice. This is why we offer our Advanced Care Program – to bring a full range of medical services to people with serious illness who have a hard time getting to their doctors.

“Advanced Care is one of the things that makes Mission Hospice & Home Care special,” says program director Rosie Carmick, RN. “We meet patients where they are, creating a plan for each one based on that individual’s desires and values.”

Cardiac specialist Virginia Wilson, Advanced Care RN, visits patient Marie Rohilaht in her San Bruno home regularly to help her manage her disease.

Education and symptom relief

By focusing on symptom management and rehabilitation, we help people learn to manage their illness so they can enjoy life – and stay at home. “We see patients for what they need,” Rosie says, “not for what their insurance will cover.”

Advanced Care patients have a range of illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, pulmonary disease, and dementia. Some are recovering from falls or serious wounds. Many of them are pursuing aggressive treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation, and some are making the transition from the hospital to home.

We bring palliative and rehabilitative medical care to these patients in their homes. Our nurses provide education and training to help them manage medications, alleviate symptoms, and manage infection. They provide hands-on wound and ostomy care, and assist with catheters and drains.

Personalized teams

A team is formed to address each patient’s needs, coordinated by an RN Case Manager. Medical Director Dr. Gary Pasternak, a palliative care specialist, is available to consult with patients’ primary physicians.

In addition to our RNs, Licensed Vocational Nurses, and Home Health Aides, our teams include experts in wound care and cardiac disease, along with a registered dietician, occupational therapist, physical therapist, and speech therapist.

Medical Social Workers are critical members of our Advanced Care teams, providing social and emotional support for patients and families. They help with long-term needs, finding resources, and counseling.

On top of all this, our direct care volunteers help Advanced Care patients in myriad ways – running errands, sharing conversation and company, or reading stories or poems.

Part of our continuum of care

Our continuum of care enables us to support people as their needs and priorities change. When a patient’s symptoms improve and he or she no longer needs medical care at home, we can offer free social work and volunteer support through our Transitions program.

For those whose illness progresses, we provide compassionate hospice care, which focuses on comfort care, along with emotional and spiritual support. Hospice also includes coordination of medications, assistance with obtaining durable medical equipment, and around-the-clock RN advice.

Unlike at other agencies, Mission Hospice & Home Care teams stay with patients even as they move between programs, so the transition is as smooth as possible for the patient and family.

“My job is to make sure our team members have the support they need,” explains Rosie. “Our staff really care about their patients – their love and commitment is beyond anything I’ve seen anywhere else. It really is inspiring.”