Palliative Home Care Unit
The Palliative Home Care Unit of Sarah Herzog Hospital, in cooperation with the Israeli Sick Funds and with the Temmy Latner Center for Palliative Care, Toronto, Canada, established a palliative home hospice program for the terminally ill elderly. Sarah Herzog Hospital is the largest geriatric and psychiatric center in Jerusalem providing the full range of health care services for the elderly. The new project aims to lengthen the possible stay of terminally ill patients at home while improving their quality of life. By treating the patients at home, it also reduces the costs of acute and long-tem hospitalization.
Over the past several years, there has been a dramatic and steady increase in the number of individuals over the age of 65 living in the Greater Jerusalem area. Overall, health care services for the elderly are lacking, with a ‘revolving door’ mentality of hospitalization for one illness followed by release and re-admittance shortly thereafter for a different illness. The level of preventive outreach or home care service is minimal. This is especially highlighted when the individual is elderly and suffering from some terminal disease. The care options often are long term hospitalization or nursing home care. Those who prefer to stay at home must rely exclusively on family care or private nurses. The entire sphere of palliative home care is minimal and only paid for by the Sick Funds in special circumstances. Generally the individual’s condition worsens at home without the proper care and support, until they require hospitalization. Support and guidance for the family caregivers is not routinely available within the current health care system.
The Palliative Home Care Unit provides care for patients (and their families) with progressive life-threatening illness who live in their own homes. The aim of the program is assessment and treatment of symptoms, relief from suffering and improvement in the quality of life of terminally ill patients. Care is provided through a partnership between Sarah Herzog Hospital and the Israeli Sick Funds, using interdisciplinary teams (physicians, nurses, social workers, dieticians, physio- and occupational therapists). The teams offer specialized 24-hours a day, 7 days a week service for adult palliative care patients in the Jerusalem area. There is no disease specificity or time limitation on patient prognosis. There is no fee charged to patients and their families. The Israeli Sick Funds provides partial funding.